Free People Ballet

So, have you seen the ad from Free People clothing?

If not, watch it here…

So, what do ya think?

Honestly, I’m divided.  I could connect to the dialogue, whether real or fictional.  The dancing I thought, well she’s just going with it and being free, maybe she had limited instruction and doing the best she could and just moving from the heart, which I think is beautiful.  I mean not everyone who is dancing from the age of 3 is of the level of  Osipova, Makarova, or Baryshnikov.  Maybe she takes only a class a week?  Then she went en pointe and I thought an ankle was going to be broken or a knee twisted.

I don’t really know who the model/dancer is and if her “story” is real or just a story.  As an adult returning to ballet, I want to be supportive and do not want to tear her down.  She did her best in the ad. She is a beautiful young lady who obviously takes care of her body and looks fit. I saw some really nasty comments on YouTube and other places on the web where this ad kept creeping up.  You can be critical without being an “arse”.

My issue is more about the company than the dancer. Who knows what this company was wanting to convey with her story. Maybe they didn’t want “perfect” maybe they wanted someone with imperfections, which is all of us, to make us more relate-able to the products?  I do find the pointe technique concerning and not responsible of the company or the dancer’s instructors, but who knows the full story, it’s just an ad.

If you go on their website, they do have a selection of ballet clothes, which are really pretty. They aren’t like “traditional” ballet clothes but barre wear, like for a barre exercise class maybe?  Some not are my style for ballet class but look really comfy.  They look nicely made as well. I liked their website but I doubt their price points will work with many dancers.  Some of the product pictures have 15 second videos of her dancing.  You can tell on her face she is enjoying herself.  Dance isn’t always about perfect technique but the joy and beauty from the heart, and she does convey that to me.   From a consumer/marketing perspective, while the pictures of the dancer/model are really pretty some I find take away from the clothes because of the technique.

Here is an example of the pointe technique that just makes me cringe and I think it takes away from the beauty of the clothes…

free people

Free People Image

If this is their idea of ballet then…perhaps a bit more research on ballet when they want to sell something to the ballet world?  It seems many in the ballet world are offended by the ad, and I can understand it.  So, would you want to buy something from a company who represents ballet like this? I think of Cloud and Victory and Discount Dance Supply, among many others, who utilize dancers for their advertising campaigns, which in my opinion, lends credibility to the products they are selling.

The real story is…we are all talking about it. 🙂  I had never heard of them until this ad came out.  Would I have heard about them if she had been a more “perfect” dancer? Would I find the clothes more appealing if the dancer had better technique? The jury is out on that one…



17 thoughts on “Free People Ballet

  1. I think for me the issue is about the companies framing of the dancer. If it was an honest portrayal of a beginner dancer, her learning, her journey, I think it would be more believable. The problem lies in the deception, she’s being portrayed as some one who does ballet for living, and the technique makes it feel dishonest.

  2. I feel a bit bad for the dancer/model who is being ripped to shreds by the online dance community- she looks like a lovely person tho she does not have the legs and feet required to dance properly on pointe (not her fault!) I don’t know why the company didn’t use a dancer with the right leg/foot line for ballet. The still shots are even worse than the video I think :/

    • Yes, I feel so awful for her. She really is beautiful and the joy on her face when dancing looks authentic. I hope the backlash does not affect her love of dancing. Poor girl was just doing her best and didn’t know different. I wonder if she had some proper instruction she could have some very pretty lines. I agree that I don’t understand why the company did not utilize a dancer with a proper ballet line. It really takes away from the credibility of the ballet products they are selling.

  3. I think what really gets me is the dancing (and the photos) en pointe without the proper technique. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d really have an issue with it. The pointe shots just get to me though.

  4. Oh my lord. I couldn’t help but cringe. I’m not one to criticize others because heck, I don’t think I look really amazing when I’m dancing, but this.. I just don’t know what to think, really.
    The story comes across as a bit fake in combination with the model in the video. It’s not really clear if it’s really her that’s doing the talking but still.. Anyone who’s been dancing from the age of three knows a thing or two about proper technique. It’s not just the pointe shoes that look horrid, but they are what makes this commercial horrible towards the dance community.. I mean for God’s sake, point your feet!
    I wonder is she would even be allowed to go en pointe if she would have been in my dance class..

  5. I didn’t even see the pictures on the website yet. Now that I did I’m wondering why they didn’t choose for someone who has feet and legs somewhat suitable for dancing en pointe.

  6. Geez. I really don’t know what to say. A part of me was like, “Um. No way she has danced consistently since she was three and is performing classical ballet in front of crowds.” Then another part was like, “Well, who am I to judge. I’m no professional dancer either. Good for her to feel that confident about free to dance, even if it isn’t perfect.” My main problem is that they threw in pointe shoes. She would have looked “ok” to the laymen if it wasn’t for that terrible (and painful looking) pointe work.

    Well, at least we have something interesting to talk about. Am I right?!??

  7. Not sure if you saw it, but over on Dance Advantage’s FB page they posted this link: Included in the FB post was a link to another blog musing whether the initial campaign may have simply been a way to draw attention to the line (no pun intended). I suppose if you’re launching a line of clothing aimed towards a niche market you need to get the market’s attention and while pretty pictures might get you a few glances, pictures of terrible technique obviously gets a lot more word-of-mouth, for better or worse.

    That being said, the original pictures are still up, so I’m not sure what their aim was. Not to mention that this “ballet wear” is nothing I would wear to ballet class.

    I agree with the comments above that simply leaving pointe shoes out would have made this whole photo shoot better. It may be that this model has taken dance classes since she was 3 and may well love dancing, but the number of years spent taking classes has no bearing on one’s ability to execute proper form. Unfortunately (and I know from first-hand experience) there are studios who teach questionable technique, putting kids en pointe who may have 20 minutes of ballet “technique” per week as part of some tap-jazz-ballet combo class. It’s terrible, but many kids and parents (and apparently “teachers”) don’t know that this is inappropriate until it’s way too late, so I’m sure there are plenty of people in marketing departments who can’t tell the difference, either. Hopefully the dialogue will yield something positive, though!

    • I just happened to see that article last night and I wondered the same thing…if it was all a marketing ploy. You have a great point about studios who do not teach proper form, while someone may dance for years there, they haven’t been taught right and can have dangerous consequences.

  8. I was scrolling down to see what this was about and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘that’s not good pointe technique in that picture…’. Of course we shouldn’t rip her to pieces for not having a great technique. But as you say, if you’re trying to sell these clothes to ballet people, you are better of choosing someone with a smoother technique. Next to that: her pointe technique is not good. It seems like she has the wrong kind of shoes. It looks unhealthy! I hope someone will help her with that, because it looks painful. At 1:20 you can clearly see she’s dancing on everything but her big toes.
    So I really hope she will try some different shoes or do something about it before she gets an injury!

    • I hope so too. She doesn’t deserve to me shredded like what has happened, just some better instruction. Now that I went back and looked she has to be in pain with her shoes, they really don’t fit well at all.

  9. So true. I actually think the clothes the woman in the ad wears are really cute, but by the time she goes on pointe in the end you only ask yourself how the hell she can stand like this.

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