Imagine a Gatorade ad where a kicker misses every field goal, or a Nike spot where a runner trips over hurdles. It would be a little bizarre.
Something similar, though perhaps not as obvious to the average viewer, happens in this ad from Free People clothing, and it has many trained dancers in an uproar. The spot and the print ads all feature a model in beautiful Free People clothing and pointe shoes, but it's painfully obvious she's not an experienced dancer. Dancers do not go on pointe without having extensive training—and frankly, really strong ankles.
This photo on the Free People site has dancers riled up, too.
I spoke with a friend who's a former pro dancer: "Like other sports, ballet is super athletic, and to be on your toes in pointe shoes is not something you just do. You need very good training," she said.
Me: "It's not just that she's improperly posed, is that correct? It's also dangerous?"
Her: "It's super dangerous. Her foot is sickled. Her ankles are not supporting her body and her position well."
"Has she been TRAINED????? Her feet are TERRIBLE, her lines are TERRIBLE… I could go on. This is OFFENSIVE to dancers out there. You went and decided to cast some local 'ballet dancer' because she had your look. Shame on you, there are plenty of professionals out there that would have looked stunning in this."
"Please take this shit down."
"This is genuinely offensive to people who are actually dancers. It's clear she hasn't been dancing since she was three … next time hire a professional to model dance-wear."
Free People should take some dance lessons from Under Armour, which is doing it right with American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland.
We've reached out to Free People for their point of view and will update when we hear back.