My first true love was ballet. I started taking classes at the age of 3, and it stirred within me a passion so great it remains with me to this day. Like so many little girls who put on their first tutu, I dreamed of one day becoming a ballerina. I would practice hard and often. My parents would take me to acclaimed music schools so I could take lessons with the best around. I even had an invite to audition for the NYC Ballet summer company-an audition that I would go to, make it past the first round of cuts, and then be sent home devastated. Somewhere in my parents’ home there is a picture of me from that day-in a pink leotard, eyes a little red, eating a Devil Dog. (which I hear are still available on ebay.) Alas, it was not meant to be. And although that experience was both heart-breaking and humbling, my love for the ballet never went away. I still cannot watch it without crying. Within seconds of the dancers coming on stage, I am in full on tears. Not because I’m thinking “boo hoo, I wish that was me” (ok, maybe a little bit), but because I find it so stunningly beautiful it literally moves me to tears. Every single time. Last Christmas, my mother and I took my daughter to see a children’s version of The Nutcracker, hoping to ignite a similar passion in her. As soon as the music came on, I felt my tears-just hearing The Nutcracker Suite has a similar effect-but after seeing the children basically fall over themselves, tears soon turned to smiles. My daughter enjoyed it, but for the most part just wanted to get the hell outta there so she could pee and get a cupcake. And after an hour and half of watching kids trip over their own feet, I was ready to get the hell outta there too.
About a year ago, I discovered something called The Ballerina Project. The Ballerina Project is the brain child of photographer and creative director Dane Shitagi. His idea to shoot ballerinas amidst the landscape of New York City began 12 years ago and was shot solely on traditional film up until 2012, when digital photography was introduced. Although the project was initiated in NYC, it has since included locales such as Boston, Miami, Toronto and Hawaii. The ballerinas are from renowned dance companies from around the world. The project itself is described “a collaborative work of dance, fashion design and photography played out against the city’s landscape.” I find it particularly captivating and I really love the juxtaposition of the beautiful dancers against the grittiness of the city-which is probably why the subway shots are my favorite. Now give me a ballerina in a pas de deux with a homeless crackhead pan handler… that’s a major moment.
Pretty major, right? All of these images and many, many more can be seen and purchased at http://ballerinaproject.com/. The site itself requires a yearly $14.95 subscription fee. You can also find Ballerina Project on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theballerinaproject?ref=ts&fref=ts, Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ballerinaprject/, their blog: http://ballerinaproject.com/blog/, and Tumblr: ballerinaproject.tumblr.com.
I’m thinking a spin-off of this with my kids may be in order…