The New York City Ballet was in Parma, Italy, when the news arrived on Sept. 11, 2001, that the Twin Towers had been attacked. Heartbroken and almost 4,000 miles away from home, ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins announced to the audience that the company would not dance that night. He promised they would return the next day—and they did. “We were so moved by this story,” recalls Peter Hempel, CEO of DDB New York. “We wanted a way to capture the spirit of what New York City Ballet believes in, which is new beginnings.”
To do so, DDB, with the help of RadicalMedia, shot NYCB principal dancers Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour performing a segment from After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon at sunrise atop the new 4 World Trade Center. Since being uploaded on Sept. 12, 2013, the tribute has been viewed upwards of 1.1 million times on YouTube, and is the second most-viewed clip in the NYCB’s history.
It's also why Adweek named the video the Gold winner in the Production category of Adweek's first Watch Awards competition, which celebrates the best work and talent in online video.
Rather than rely on the gimmicks many filmmakers use with ballet dancers (close-ups of toes on pointe, elongated limbs), Hempel—who himself trained with NYCB in his youth—says DDB and Radical involved the choreographer and dancers, with an eye on capturing intricate technique. The clip was filmed in one steady take to mimic the experience of watching a live performance. “We were able to not make the mistakes that someone who doesn’t understand ballet would,” says Hempel.
“It was an honor to offer this tribute to the city of New York, and we are grateful to the team at DDB for their creativity, sensitivity and skill in realizing a project that has resonated with so many,” says Karen Girty, NYCB’s senior director of marketing and media.
Production – Gold
NYC Ballet: New Beginnings
Company: DDB NewYork
Production – Sliver
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