Still Life Dancer
That quiet emotion stirs
Letting the wind catch it
In beautiful anticipation of motion
Ready to spring into graceful pirouette
As the city hums in quiet rhythm
Dane Shitagi has given a strong voice to dance and to photography. His brilliant work, embodied in the Ballerina Project, weaves the art of dance, fashion, culture and architecture into one very emotive symphony. It’s a dream performance spanning 15 years, several countries and featuring some of the world’s most talented ballerinas.
The dream began in Honolulu Hawaii, where the photographer was born and where his passion for the art was cultivated at an early age. The vision was realized when he decided to infuse his beautiful landscape captures with the grace of a ballerina.
Uniting beauty with beauty, art with art, and emotion with atmosphere his still-life compositions are nothing less than powerful. Mr. Shitagi captures the experience of dance in an unconventional way. This is not dance photography. Taking the dancer out of her element, the story of the dance becomes raw and unfiltered, personal and reflective.
When the Ballerina reaches the urban landscape the portraits become pure alchemy. Shitagi moved to New York City in 1996. His art-blending took on a new vitality in this frenetic place of art, fashion and design. This vibrant city is cadenced. It hums with inspiration. The Ballerina with her beautiful heart and creative soul is delicate and strong. Her art sits at the source of all arts and emotion. Like a tiny muse, her graceful legs meander in pirouette and allure.
The juxtaposition of the delicate grace of the dancer and the defined edges of the city sees balance, rhythm and harmony in the most refined way.
Line blurs and the two become uniquely one, strengthening and softening respectively.
I feel this is where the photographer’s emotive portraits are cultivated into purest form.
There’s a beautiful mysticism within these quiet portraits of contrast.
Ballerina, Alex Jacob, expresses her connection with the city beautifully. She begins her story with the powerful lyrics of PJ Harvey’s song “Grow Grow Grow”. Falling in love with everything about it, the Ballerina carried the hauntingly beautiful song along and into her Greenpoint, Brooklyn shoot with Mr. Shitagi. I suspect this is how a magical creation begins, from one subliminal inspiration which can stir deeply. From here the warm July day in Brooklyn was filled with soft breezes and colourful bubble letters on graffitied walls. The city seemed to embrace the Ballerina and the aggressive strokes of street art softened through Shitagi’s lenses.
All the while, the lyrics rang quietly. The city took its turn and, this time, became the muse. Alex was charmed by the large striking light posts in an abandoned lot. She was drawn to climb up and cling to one. Tranquil, she heard PJ Harvey’s music as the wind picked up and pulled her white dress in quiet resistance. The Ballerina reflects, “I closed my eyes and gave in to the surrounding, growing in that direction.”
I love this story. This is Dane Shitagi’s vision. From the scenic natural landscapes of Hawaii to the man-made scenes of a vibrant city his aim is to seek the quiet moments of a dancer.
All photos by Dane Shitagi.