OK. Deep breaths, guys. By now we’re guessing a lot of you have seen the video for Free People’s new collection of dancewear—and a lot of you are angry about it. In case it hasn’t popped up in your Twitter feed yet, voila:
There’s been an outpouring of snarky commentary about this online. Because despite her lovely face and body, that model is clearly not a high-caliber ballet dancer—a fact immediately apparent to anyone with serious training. You want to yank those pointe shoes off her feet before she breaks her poor, sickled ankles.
Here’s the good news: The clothes themselves? A lot of them are great! I mean, I want this, and this, and I could definitely use a pair of these. It’s not the product that’s the problem. (Well, maybe these are a little strange…but the idea is interesting.)
So somebody over at Free People understands dancers. The question is: Why didn’t they follow through? Why create a line of clothes dancers might actually love—and then advertise it with a model guaranteed to set dancers’ teeth on edge?
What a missed opportunity, especially because the remedy is so simple. The world is crawling with gorgeous, talented dancers who would hit this kind of job out of the park. It seems like Free People had a very specific “look” in mind—a beautiful woman who breaks the “only white girls do ballet” stereotype—and just off the top of my head, I can think of many phenomenal dancers who fit that look perfectly. What about the extraordinary members of Dance Theatre of Harlem, or Complexions Contemporary Ballet, or Alonzo King LINES Ballet? What about someone like Michaela DePrince, who has not only a great body, but also a powerful story to tell?
I’m curious to hear how you all feel about this. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.