Experience Research & Design


The risk of capturing the 'ballet spirit.'

Last week Free People released advertising for their spring line. One collection was 'inspired by the ballet spirit.' Being a dancer, I'm all about having the luxury of wearing my dance clothes in public and not getting funny looks, the issue around this collection came in the form of the advertisement.

While having the intentions of promoting the 'ballet spirit' they missed the mark on promoting the art while putting their model at physical risk. Throughout the collection you'll find the model donning the ever so treasured pointe shoes of a skilled ballerina. Media has promoted the advertisement and the dance world was definitely not happy about Free People's execution.

The dance world was up in arms over the advertising because you don't put just anyone in pointe shoes. I've been dancing for almost 16 years now and have attended my ballet class regularly over the last two years. This year I began pointe class with other adults in my level, starting out with a 30 minute class after the mandatory 1.5 hour technique class. For anyone learning how to dance in pointe shoes, they soon come to find out it's not your toes holding all of your weight in that pretty shoe, it's your entire body. Without the proper training, you're not just risking your feet and ankles, but injuries to other areas of your body, such as your back or knees that could have lasting affects.

Free People could have approached capturing 'ballet spirit' in a different way. They could have selected a different type of dance, there's modern, contemporary, tap, jazz, swing, the list is forever long. The company could have also hired a pre-professional ballerina if they couldn't afford the contract with someone from the local professional ballet. Under Armour has a contract with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Principal Misty Copeland and has captured the athleticism of dancers. I love how they have left the classical art behind for a more edgy representation of the ballet world in their advertisements. Whether it was an oversight on Free People's part or intentional, the company missed an opportunity to capitalize on dance and are now at the middle of criticisms within the dance world.