You guys. This is getting a little bit out of hand. First the Kendall Jenner debacle, and now this? Despite the fact that dance seems to be getting more coverage than ever before (thanks to celebs, TV shows, movies and tasteful advertising campaigns), there are still lingering stereotypes about ballet being easy, or dance not being a real job.
Le sigh. Vanity Fair released a short video to accompany a story on dance-student-turned-photographer Petra Collins. There are several things at play here, and before we totally freak out, I think it’s important to weigh them all:
- The story is about how Collins rebounded from a devastating knee injury, incurred when she was a teenager, to find a love of photography. Neither the story nor the video are attempting to portray her as a professional dancer. It’s about reinvention.
- That said, the video is set up to show Collins “teaching” ballet. Yikes! It’s clear from the moment she walks on camera that she doesn’t posses the level of ballet technique necessary to teach others. There’s lots of giggling and she describes herself as an “expert non-expert,” so we know this is for fun. But that’s leads us to point 3.
- It’s obvious that Collins isn’t trying to pose as a professional. The real problem is that there are tons of stunning professional dancers who could have been hired for this video—for EVERY dance-related video and advertisement—but who aren’t. When professional dancers aren’t sought out and hired, it reinforces the idea that dance isn’t serious, or popular…or even a real thing that people do for their career.
Let’s consider a scenario in which a video combining ballet and Petra Collins could have been something other than very strange. She could have been dancing her heart out with her friends in her living room. She could have been receiving technique pointers from a pro, like Laurie Hernandez in this video. She could have been talking about what the loss of ballet meant to her while she improvised movement. She could have been photographing a few professional dancers, since photography is her current medium and dance is her first love. Too bad Dev Hynes (accompanying on piano) couldn’t get some of his new dance friends involved with this project. #disappointed