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.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.