Free People’s “Ballet” Campaign

Posted by on 05.19.2014

As many of you in the dance community have probably seen, the clothing company, Free People, has developed a ballet line.  But instead of considering the clothes, all we have been able to focus on for the last week are the photos and the videos published to promote the new line.

© 2014 FreePeople.com. All Rights Reserved.

© 2014 FreePeople.com. All Rights Reserved.

The photos obviously indicate that the models had little to no ballet training, which is enough to upset professional dancers on it’s own.  Why would they choose to not use dancers when they likely had a large budget and could have done whenever they want?  As I monitored the social media response to these photos, my personal reaction was that there are a lot of similar ballet photos online.  Often you have to look for them on a medium like Pinterest, not on a large company’s home page, but regardless, they are there. So what is it about these photos that has everyone in an uproar?

It wasn’t until I came across the video that I really started to see where everyone was coming from.  When a woman is talking about how she has been dancing since she was three, what ballet means to her in her life, and the art form in general, you expect her to demonstrate ballet on a professional or near-professional level. Let’s just say she should have at least looked like she had a few years of training. The video sparked outraged YouTube comments, numerous blog posts, and even a few parodies.

 

The shame of this campaign, is this could have been another moment for ballet to be in the spotlight and give some trained dancers the opportunity to be a part of this project.  Seriously, who casted the models?

It has been announced that Ballet Zaida and Free People have since partnered up for a photo campaign.  It sounds as if the Ballet Zaida project has been in the works for some time, but I can’t help but wonder if this has a bit to do with the response the company has been receiving.  Why wouldn’t they just use this as their promotional materials?

Now doesn’t this look better??

Photo credit: Oliver Endahl, Ballet Zaida in collaboration with Free People

Photo credit: Oliver Endahl, Ballet Zaida in collaboration with Free People

I have been in touch with Free People to see if someone from their PR department would be willing to comment on their current campaign.  Fingers crossed that I will hear back, and believe me, if I do, you will be the first to know!

In the mean time, what are your thoughts? How do you feel about the video? Will the Ballet Zaida Campaign make you consider buying some of the merchandise?

Sound off below. 

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