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Pointes of view: Breathtaking pictures of ballerinas across the world

Dane Shitagi has spent 25 years photographing ballerinas from London to Buenos Aires, spawning the viral Ballerina Project. His new book looks back on some of the project’s most stunning images

Thursday 10 October 2019 13:44 BST

In 1994 Dane Shitagi, a young photographer from Oahu, Hawaii, pushed a small platform into the pool at the bottom of a local waterfall.

Claire Unabia James, a ballerina, perched on top of the platform, sometimes wobbling and falling off into the cold water, while Shitagi photographed her from the shore.

The black-and-white images of James, bowed over the water as if she was floating on the surface, marked the beginning of Shitagi’s decades-long passion for capturing ballerinas in striking environments, their sinuous poses mimicking or contrasting with the world around them.

Shitagi began sharing his photos on social media under the name Ballerina Project in 2009; his Instagram account now has a million followers. Shitagi has photographed a hundred ballerinas from London to Buenos Aires, now collected in a new book, Ballerina Project.

Despite the exotic locations, Shitagi says the ballerina remains at the heart of his project: “Still photography is not a natural medium to capture dance,” he writes in Ballerina Project. “The project is about the ballerinas. Their emotions, their aspirations, and the place they are present in their lives.”

Ballerina Project by Dane Shitagi, published by Chronicle Books, and is available now for £29

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