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An innovative single-frame, single-exposure ballet photo book featuring some of the world's top ballet dancers (not Photoshopped).

Welcome to the Esprit de Corps Kickstarter campaign!  I'm Jesús, a photographer and former contemporary ballet dancer from Brooklyn behind the project.  All the wonderful people working on this project and I are psyched you're here.  Let me tell you about what we're producing; I hope you'll love it as much as we do.

Esprit de Corps is an art book project that captures the beauty and virtuosity (read: superhuman-ness) of some of the world's best ballet dancers through the unique, exciting and just plain cool photographic lighting technique you see here. 


Our quickly expanding list of dancers includes:

Michaela DePrince, Jared Matthews, Yuriko Kajiya, James Whiteside, Sterling Baca, Elina Miettinen, Sean Stewart, Cassandra Trenary, Patrick Yocum

+ many more.  Stay tuned for dancer announcement throughout the campaign.  You won't be disappointed!  Plus weigh-in in the comments about who you'd like to see!


Pirouette en Attitude - Michaela DePrince
Pirouette en Attitude - Michaela DePrince
Renversé - Elina Miettinen
Renversé - Elina Miettinen
Grand Pas de Chat - Sean Stewart & Cassie Trenary
Grand Pas de Chat - Sean Stewart & Cassie Trenary
Entrechats Six - Sterling Baca
Entrechats Six - Sterling Baca

You're probably looking at it and wondering how it's done.  Or maybe thinking: "that's a cool Photoshop effect."  But!  The technique is totally old school photography executed in a new way.  There is no special camera or film.  We use regular photography lights.  And there's very minimal Photoshop--only a bit here and there to clean up or add contrast to the amazing "in-camera" effect. You can see the difference between what comes out of the camera and the finished product here:

Amazing the combination that photography and dance can produce, right? Well, after discovering how beautifully and uniquely this lighting technique can capture ballet, it dawned on me that it would be a great subject for a one-of-a-kind art book. 


So, cool work. Why Kickstarter? 

We want to produce a lot more of it, a 240 page, full-color, hard-bound, 11x13 book to be exact--along with beautiful art for your walls and other goodies. I mean, wouldn't you love to see this stuff on your coffee table, or (and!) above your couch, work desk or mantel? (Me too.) And my collaborators and I need you to make that happen.

Initially, having several friends in publishing, I thought, "These photos are so cool and I think I know the right people; I can get a book deal with an advance to produce it, no problem." Well, it turns out getting a book deal: not that easy. Publishers are less-and-less interested in art books because they don't really have the potential to sell as well as Harry Potter or a presidential biography. Most won't even bite unless there's something nearly identical that has done exceptionally well very recently, or unless you're already VERY big time, and usually both.  And those who might be interested, want finished artwork. They think fronting a budget for this project isn't worthwhile.  They're simply convinced there aren't art patrons like you worth pursuing. We think they're wrong.

More than anything, though, I've been a big fan of Kickstarter ever since I backed my first project in 2009 (under a different email account). And I've marveled at how creative people have used Kickstarter to produce projects like this one, projects that might not have had much of a chance without a large group of backers saying, "Yes, this is something we want" and who are willing to be patrons before it's done, so it can actually get done.  So, I turn to you Kickstarter, knowing that there is an audience here for amazing art books, that patrons of the arts still exist in the form of crowdfunding backers. Let's make it happen.


Esprit de Corps needs $115,000 of arts patronage to become a reality - that's ~1,500 books

One of the hurdles of creating photography (and book publishing) of this scale and production value is that it needs a big budget because photography like this includes a lot of people and has a lot of expensive moving (or not moving) parts. 

To give one example of the expenses we face: to create the best photographs possible, we need a very big space with some specific requirements, including a sprung wood floor (so our world-renowned dancers don't injure themselves), black marley flooring, and dimensions of at least 40 by 40 feet with a high ceiling. Oh, and, all in New York!  The cheapest places that fit that criteria are still at least $1,800/day!  Quick addition: 10 shoot days = $18,000!

That doesn't even include hiring the 20 world-class dancers, production staff, designers, wardrobe, extra equipment rental, on-site food, insurance, book production and rewards expenses, fulfillment, shipping, Kickstarter+Amazon fees, bounced pledges/credit cards (it happens, ~5%), etc. etc. etc.!  But we've crunched the numbers over-and-over, sharpened our pencils, and that's what it'll take. (For those of you in less expensive places; I know. The expense of New York blew my mind too when I first moved here from The Midwest.)

So, get your piece of it.  And make sure to spread the word about the project; help us make this a reality!

The Book, Prints and Beyond

One of the great things about Kickstarter is that we get funded as you order the amazing goodies we're producing, including the Esprit de Corps Book!  Without further ado, the rewards, all arriving in time for the Holidays!

Amazing Computer Wallpapers! - $13

Prototype - final designs may change. Think we can get Oprah to throw in the actual devices too?  If you have a connection to her, let her know about us!  :-)
Prototype - final designs may change. Think we can get Oprah to throw in the actual devices too? If you have a connection to her, let her know about us! :-)

Get a 6-month subscription to monthly, stunning, exclusive-to-Kickstarter digital wallpapers formatted for your devices coming August, September, October, November, December and January. These montages will not be available anywhere else digitally or in-print.

Swag!  All Designed Exclusively for Kickstarter.

All stunning initial swag designs exclusive to Kickstarter--get them now or these'll be gone!  All swag levels also include the Relevé 6-month subscription to digital wallpaper for your devices.  Swag levels include:

Temporary Tattoos (Tendu, $20)

Prototype - final designs may change.  Adorable shoes not included.
Prototype - final designs may change. Adorable shoes not included.

Postcards (Coupé, $25)

Prototype - final designs may change.  Everything in this photo is actually included!  :-)
Prototype - final designs may change. Everything in this photo is actually included! :-)

Greeting Cards (Arabesque, $30)

Prototype - final designs may change.  Envelopes included too!  (Postage not though.)
Prototype - final designs may change. Envelopes included too! (Postage not though.)

Posters (Développé, $50)

Prototype - final designs may change.  Only one poster included--you'll get to pick which one you want to wake up to every morning, from a number of possibilities.
Prototype - final designs may change. Only one poster included--you'll get to pick which one you want to wake up to every morning, from a number of possibilities.

Drawstring Backpack (Epaulement, $60)

Prototype - final designs may change.  Perfect for ballet class or the gym. Only one bag included, unless your order more than one.
Prototype - final designs may change. Perfect for ballet class or the gym. Only one bag included, unless your order more than one.

The Esprit de Corps Book! (Esprit de Corps, $80; Esprit de Corps X2 -- order two (2) at a time for $150)

Prototype - final design and cover may change.  Omg, omg, omg!
Prototype - final design and cover may change. Omg, omg, omg!

240 hard-bound pages showcasing the extraordinary breadth of the ballet lexicon as well as the super-human talent and ability of some of the world's best dancers. 

Esprit de Corps Book and a Unique-to-YOU behind-the-scenes print. (Brisé Volé, $115)

The Secret Lives of how Professional Ballet Dancers put on their Makeup.  You could get something *like* this as a surprise in the mail!
The Secret Lives of how Professional Ballet Dancers put on their Makeup. You could get something *like* this as a surprise in the mail!

Swag Pack (Port de Bras, $185)

Protoypes - final designs may change.  All the things! (Almost; does not include any prints or the surprise behind-the-scenes photo.)
Protoypes - final designs may change. All the things! (Almost; does not include any prints or the surprise behind-the-scenes photo.)

Big, Beautiful, Magical Prints!  (Jeté, 11x14, $550; Grand Jeté, 16x24, $1,600; and Tour Jeté, 30x40, $3,000)

Plus!  Upgraded Print Packages!

A one-on-one lunch with the photographer + a Jeté Print + signed Esprit de Corps book (Adagio, $1,100)

A visit to one of the photo shoots, dinner with you+guest, the photographer and two of the dancers in one of New York's hottest and most coveted "secret" restaurants, a Tour Jeté print and a signed Esprit de Corps book (Grand Allegro, $7,000)

Get in on an intensive 2-day lighting and post-production workshop with Jesús Chapa-Malacara.  These studio photography workshops will cover a comprehensive range of lighting setups and post-production techniques for photographing athletes and motion.  Emphasis will be on rigorous "in-camera" principals as well as flawless, invisible post-production work.  Let's get you on your way to producing exciting, technically rigorous and professional work.  More details in the Reward section to the right.

So...Join Us!

We're super excited you've gotten this far.  Now all that's left is to become our backer, choose your rewards and join us in this journey of funding and making some great art, all while forging the future of art finance, production and distribution.  We can't wait to share this with you.  All our best.  

Jesús + Dancers + Collaborators

All Esprit de Corps photography ©Jesús Chapa-Malacara / fotosjcm.com.  All Rights Reserved.  Distribution, reproduction and/or modification expressly prohibited without explicit permission.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest challenge by far will be scheduling with all these world-class dancers. As you can imagine, they are very busy, very in-demand people traversing the globe at any given moment. We've worked out a work schedule with the shoot space that will allow a good bit of flexibility, and we're working with every dancer already recruited, and who will be recruited, to figure out how to combine availabilities.

One of the things that will also hugely help with scheduling is exceeding our budget because in addition to the flexibility we've worked out, it will allow us to have more actual time in the studio. To that end, we ask our backers to help in really promoting the Esprit de Corps Kickstarter campaign. With your help, the project can only get more and more smooth and fabulous! Thanks so much!

FAQ

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    10 backers

    PLIÉ - Eternal gratitude from us to you, a thank you tweet, and a shout-out on our Facebook wall.

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    7 backers

    RELEVÉ - Get a 6 month subscription to exclusive-to-Kickstarter digital wallpapers for your devices, featuring Esprit de Corps montages, previews, and behind-the-scenes action released once a month from August through January. These montages will not be available anywhere else digitally or in-print.

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    6 backers

    TENDU - Get a set of four (4) exclusive-to-Kickstarter 2"x 2" temporary tattoos, specially designed for Tendu backers, as well as the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    17 backers

    COUPÉ - Get a set of 5 different exclusive-to-Kickstarter, mail-able postcards specially designed for Coupé backers, as well as the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    7 backers

    ARABESQUE - Get a set of 5 different, exclusive-to-Kickstarter greeting cards (envelopes included) specially designed for Arabesque backers, as well as the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    3 backers

    DÉVELOPPÉ - Get an exclusive-to-Kickstarter poster featuring a unique Esprit de Corps montage created just for Développé backers! Plus get the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    EPAULEMENT - Get an exclusive-to-Kickstarter drawstring backpack with Esprit de Corps art printed on it! Plus get the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices. Bag not designed for heavy items such as books but perfect for ballet, yoga or gym clothes.

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    40 backers

    ESPRIT DE CORPS!!! - Just in time for the Holidays! Be among the first to get a copy of the Esprit de Corps book! Each full-color, hard-bound book contains 240 pages filled with these incredible photographs of some of the world's best ballet dancers. Plus, get the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    6 backers Limited (144 left of 150)

    BRISÉ VOLÉ - Just in-time for the Holidays! Get an Esprit de Corps book, as well an exclusive-to-YOU, behind-the-scenes 5x7 photograph mailed to you during the making of the book (either during shooting or during post-production). Every backer at this level will get a different photograph, and you won't be notified that it's coming. Could be an instagram photo, could be a polaroid, could be a preview print--you just won't know. We'll surprise you! Plus you'll get the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices. (Photos will arrive first come-first serve between August & December; Book will arrive in December.)

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    10 backers

    ESPRIT DE CORPS X 2!!! - Just in time for the Holidays! Get two (2) copies of the Esprit de Corps book! Each full-color, hard-bound book contains 240 pages filled with these incredible photographs of some of the world's best ballet dancers. Plus, get the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    1 backer

    PORT DE BRAS SWAG PACK - Just in time for the Holidays! Get the Esprit de Corps book, plus the exclusive-to-Kickstarter temporary tattoos, postcards, greeting cards, poster and drawstring backpack! All will ship in December. Also, of course, the Relevé reward subscription to 6 months of digital wallpaper for your devices!

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    JETÉ COLLECTION PRINT - Access to the first impression of a limited-run, signed and numbered 11"x14" print of a photograph chosen from the Jeté Collection of 30 photographs from the book!!! Each photo will be a limited edition of 50 and every print will have a slight variation, making each one unique. Every Jeté Collection backer is guaranteed access to a first print of at least one of the photos in the Jeté Collection. This is an extraordinary opportunity to get in on the ground floor in collecting some exceptional artwork. Additionally, you'll receive a signed copy of the Esprit de Corps book and the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices. (The Jeté, Grand Jeté, and Tour Jeté Collections will all be separate, non-overlapping collections.)

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    ADAGIO - Have a personal, one-on-one artist talk with the photographer over lunch in New York, Boston or Los Angeles, where he will sign a limited-edition, signed and numbered Jeté Collection print of your choosing as well as the Esprit de Corps book. Lunch food/beverage provided, though backer is responsible for transportation to/from, and accommodations in, agreed-upon city (among NYC, Boston or LA). We'll contact you about scheduling. International shipping applies for lunch talks that happen before the book and prints are complete. Additionally, you'll receive the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices.

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    GRAND JETÉ COLLECTION PRINT - Access to the first impression of a limited-run, signed and numbered 16"x24" print of a photograph chosen from the Grand Jeté Collection of 30 photographs from the book!!! Each photo will be a limited edition of 50 and every print will have a slight variation, making each one unique. Every Grand Jeté Collection backer is guaranteed access to a first print of at least one of the photos in the Grand Jeté Collection. This is an extraordinary opportunity to get in on the ground floor in collecting some exceptional artwork. Additionally, you'll receive a signed copy of Esprit de Corps, the Arabesque greeting cards, and the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices. (The Jeté, Grand Jeté, and Tour Jeté Collections will all be separate, non-overlapping collections.)

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    TOUR JETÉ COLLECTION PRINT - Access to the first impression of a limited-run, signed and numbered 30"x40" print of a photograph chosen from the Tour Jeté Collection of 30 photographs from the book!!! Each photo will be a limited edition of 50 and every print will have a slight variation, making each one unique. Every Tour Jeté Collection backer is guaranteed access to a first print of at least one of the photos in the Tour Jeté Collection. This is an extraordinary opportunity to get in on the ground floor in collecting some exceptional artwork. Additionally, you'll receive a signed copy of Esprit de Corps, the Arabesque greeting cards, and the Relevé reward subscription (beginning in August) to 6 months of digital wallpapers for your devices. (The Jeté, Grand Jeté, and Tour Jeté Collections will all be separate, non-overlapping collections.)

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    GRAND ALLEGRO NYC - Make a cameo at one shoot day of the Esprit de Corps photo shoots; receive a limited-edition, signed and numbered 30"x40" Tour Jeté Collection print, and the Esprit de Corps book; and have dinner, including you and a guest of your choosing, with the photographer Jesús Chapa-Malacara and two of the dancers at one of New York's most revered and coveted "secret" restaurants (Japanese food, though not sushi). Food/Beverage included, though backer is responsible for transportation to/from, and accommodations in, NYC. We'll contact you about scheduling. Specific dancer requests subject to availability, and dinner may need to happen on a separate day than shoot attendance to maximize availability. Tour Jeté Collection print may be exchanged for 2 Grand Jeté Collection Prints or 3 Jeté Collection Prints. Shoot: July/August/September; book, print: November.

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Funding period

- (31 days)