The ballet world has issued a collective "WTF?" in response to a certain Free People ad featuring what many have dubbed the worst ballet impression on the internet. As Jezebel put it, the dance "truthers" have come out in full force to denounce the campaign, calling it "painful" to watch, "offensive," and "embarrassing."
Dear free people,
Maybe you should hire actual dancers to promote your ballet clothing. 😷 pic.twitter.com/uoKIUvu7tZ
— Ballerina Problems (@PointeProblems) May 16, 2014
So what's all the fuss about? According to the hundreds of commenters who watched a video for the FP Movement Ballet on YouTube, and the sizable amount of Facebook users who subsequently took to the Free People page in protest, the ad's unnamed female "ballet dancer" modeling Free People clothing is not a ballet dancer at all. Or, at least, not a trained one.
Though the ballerina claims she's been dancing since she was three years old, critics have pointed out several faults in her technique, including weak ankles and sickled feet -- essentially, big no-nos in the ballet community. While the novice's eye (including some of our own) may be satisfactorily wowed by her elegant movement and pretty physique, pros and seasoned dancers alike are not happy with FP's choice of aligning themselves with ballet in order to sell "barre-ready dancerwear" without paying it proper respect.
The backlash -- for the most part -- has not been directed toward the model, but toward the apparel company, for prioritizing appearance over talent in the casting process.
"I’ve been a dancer for many years, and though I focus more on modern these days, I studied ballet for over fifteen years," Bustle writer Erin Mayer wrote. "I was never an amazing ballerina, but I know the difference between proper and improper technique...The model/dancer in the Free People advertisements looks the part -- until you put her in pointe shoes. Then, she looks like she’s about to break her ankles."
"OUCH," proclaimed Tadej Brdnik, Martha Graham Dance Principal Dancer and Manager of Special Projects, wrote on Twitter, "this was really painful to watch,..who was doing their casting???"
"This girl claims she's been dancing since she was three years old. Honey pie, whoever trained you needs to be fired YESTERDAY," said Meghan Sanett, professional dancer with Go2Talent and a friend of one of our HuffPost Arts editors, on Facebook.
The anger still continues on social media. And more than a few writers have pointed out another ballet ad by Under Armor, which manages to do right by dancers by featuring the renowned ballerina Misty Copeland. We've reached out to Free People for comment, but have yet to hear back. In the meantime, we want to know what you think in the comments. What's your take on the advertisement?
— Morgan Decker (@MorganDeckerful) May 16, 2014
Free People is getting shitted on by every dancer on this planet because of their new "ballet" ads lmao
— ☮☻☮ (@marianap0li) May 16, 2014
facebook showed me an ad for the free people ballet line and i marked it as offensive and inappropriate
— Lise (@hey_anelise) May 16, 2014
@freepeople your perspective on ballet sucks.
— Emma Williams (@Emmasdilemma1) May 16, 2014
Jesus christ surely anyone could tell shes not a dancer. Especially on pointe, poor girl will hurt herself D:
— ❋✿Niymi✿❋ (@taylarwong) May 16, 2014
The ad made me cringe... particularly the jump shot. Woof. http://t.co/1cHVaycNPt
— Olivia Plaine (@oliviaplaine) May 16, 2014
I'm do angry about that Free People commercial with the "ballet dancer." All the real dancers out there and they hire that girl.
— Afrodite (@AisforAriel) May 16, 2014
— Lauren Waskiewicz (@LWaski_24) May 16, 2014
— Kate Ward (@KateWardBustle) May 16, 2014
Actors THIS is what happens when you say you have a skill and you don't AND the client is a dumbass. YOU ALL LOOK BAD http://t.co/naO9nGbsl9
— Tom Lommel (@tomlommel) May 16, 2014
Did FreePeople really assume trained dancers would not notice the difference here? Quite offensive and very unsafe. http://t.co/uAvlbSYlc4
— Jessica Eklund (@jess_eklund) May 16, 2014
Free People should've known better. Go after a community and they will sniff out impostors immediately. http://t.co/zNY4o3gS1M
— Ben Zumsteg (@benzumsteg) May 16, 2014