American Ballet Theatre's Kathryn Boren, featured in Ballerina Project.

Dane Shitagi, Courtesy Chronicle Books

The New Ballerina Project Book is Finally Here!

Earlier this year, we shared that photographer Dane Shitagi's Ballerina Project—his gorgeous, ongoing collection of dance photos that have dominated our Instagram feeds for years—would be coming to an end. But all is not lost—starting September 17, you can enjoy over 170 of these photographs in Ballerina Project, a stunning new book showcasing Shitagi's work.


Courtesy Chronicle Books

For 18 years, Shitagi photographed hundreds of ballet dancers in locations all over the world—streets, beaches, rooftops, you name it. (I'm biased, but one of my favorites is this image of my friend Violeta Angelova, hanging gracefully from Brooklyn's Williamsburg Bridge.) His work became a viral phenomenon on social media, where he has over a million followers in Instagram. His new book features over 50 renowned ballet dancers, with major cities like New York City, London, Buenos Aires and Paris serving as their backdrop.

Julie Doherty poses on the beach, from the book Ballerina Project.

Dane Shitagi, Courtesy Chronicle Books

So clear a space on your coffee table! This hardcover book is even bound in pink satin, a nod to pointe shoes. You'll be able to purchase Ballerina Project, currently available for pre-order, at book stores nationwide on September 17, including major retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Target. And New York City dancers, listen up: To celebrate its release, Rizzoli Bookstore is having a launch party on Sunday, September 15. Fans will be able to meet and get their books signed by some of Ballerina Project's featured dancers, including American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston, Kathryn Boren and Brittany DeGrofft and High Strung Free Dance star Juliet Doherty. Click here for more information about this free event.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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