Free People Presents: FP Movement Ballet

What moves you? For some, it’s music. For others, it’s the power of the written word. And for others, it’s dance. Ballet is an art that has always intrigued me – it is so graceful and delicate, yet so strong and powerful at the same time. Watching a dancer in motion is mesmerizing. See for yourself in the video below, and check out some behind the scenes images from our ballet shoot!

Shop FP Movement Ballet.

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Shop FP Movement Ballet.

More Movement inspiration from the BLDG 25 Blog.


  1. Love Free People’s over all branding but was surprisingly disappointed in your casting choice. She’s beautiful but not a dancer. Her feet!

  2. Agreed. She is beautiful, but being a professional ballet dancer myself this is kind of insulting. I don’t say this to be mean to the girl, I would just love to see this art portrayed in its highest form on your lovely blog.

  3. As a dancer I totally agree with the others…poor choice…there are so many beautiful and graceful ballerinas out there who have dedicated their life to perfecting their craft. The ballet section of the FP Movement campaign is incredibly disappointing. Where is the beautiful point in her feet? When she rises to releve in her pointe shoes, she doesn’t even get all the way over the box of the shoe. Definitely missed the mark, FP, and really disappointing to have ballet represented this way.

  4. As a dancer myself I am disappointed in all the “dancers” rude comments to this post. She is lovely, (even if you think her technique is off). No one is perfect.

  5. It’s not just her’s her arms, the quality of her movement, everything. I get that like the “ballerina/dancer” concept is trendy and they are trying to capitalize on that, but it’s insulting and inaccurate to use someone who clearly doesn’t dance to depict it.

  6. She IS lovely, and the passion is there. However, for Free People to show incorrect technique in pointe shoes is scary because it encourages other’s to model themselves after this young woman. To put an individual in the spotlight, Free People should be conscious of choosing someone who will portray the role safely. Looking at the model’s ankles, and how they are sickling when she is en pointe, she needs correction on the proper way to hold herself in a pointe shoe. Without this correction she could easily roll an ankle — causing a sprain, broken bones, torn ligaments, etc. And so could the girls who are modeling themselves after her.

    Please Free People, pair with a professional dancer, or at least a professional consultant to correct this video and the images on your website. You are promoting incorrect and unsafe ballet technique, as well as misuse of pointe shoes. Do not take ballet so lightly.

  7. @Julie, you couldn’t have said it better. One can get seriously injured! I’m glad that they put the warning on the vintage shoes that they’re “meant to be admired as decorative art pieces”, but the model in the “Vintage 1950s Crinoline Ballet Skirt” wearing the shoes is concerning. Wished that she was modeling the handmade or Capezio slippers instead. Safety first!

  8. I’m sorry but as a professional dancer for 20 years I find this ad insulting. It’s not being “rude” to say that. I know how hard it is to be a ballet dancer and the hours it takes and the training you need to put in to make it beautiful. This ad to me belittles all of that hard work that real ballet dancers (male and female) contribute to make their craft beautiful. I feel sorry for the girl that there wasn’t someone in the production of the video that knew more about what a ballerina strives to look like. If it’s supposed to be just about movement then it should be about that but to say it’s about ballet then that’s sad and a slap in the face to ALL professional ballet dancers out there.

  9. This is an unjust portrayal of dancers who literally dedicate their lives, perfecting their technique and artistry. It really is an insult.

  10. As a dancer, I am outraged at the portrayal of ballet in this video. I have spent 20 out of my 23 years striving to NOT look like that, and I am saddened that the casting directors at Free People are so uneducated in this art form to believe that this advertisement is actually what dancers look like. It is disgraceful. This is an incredible disservice to the advancement of our art form, and, maybe even worse, they have subjected this poor girl to such negativity. My point is, DO YOUR RESEARCH!! Do not take the first pretty girl you see, throw a pair of pointe shoes on her and tell her to dance. That’s NOT how it works! Again, I have spent countless hours agonizing over my technique, and it is an insult to dancers around the world that THIS is what you think ballet is! Had you done your research, Free People, you could have saved this poor girl a whole lot of heart ache, AND you might have actually had some dancers buying your clothes. I will not be buying anything, as I do not intend to support a company who makes a mockery of my art form.

  11. Free People, care to comment? Where does this dancer study? Is she in a major ballet company? Where did she go to college and major in dance? Did she attend a prestigious conservatory? It’s unfortunate enough that your clothing is as expensive as it is – real dancers can’t afford it. But to advertise it via this girl (who is lovely and might enjoy dancing in her free time), is a slap in the face to any professional ballet dancer. See above link to Misty Copeland’s Under Armour promotion.

  12. The model you used for this campaign is beautiful. She has surely danced at some point in her life but I have to agree with those saying a professional ballerina or a woman with a professional dance background should have been used for this campaign. There are so many ballet dancers out there who have worked for YEARS achieving top-notch technique and artistry and aren’t able to find jobs doing what they’ve worked so hard to accomplish. As a ballet dancer with a professional skill set, it’s frustrating to see a model, like the one you have casted for this campaign, portray a “ballerina” when it’s obvious she has minimal experience. I know for a fact that there are ballerinas out there, professionals and/or those with major ballet experience, who would’ve LOVED to have been a part of this campaign and honestly, may even have done it without being paid (it’s great publicity and FP is an awesome brand!). I think from a brand management perspective, the campaign was executed poorly. It’s lacking in research (other clothing companies, like GAP and Uniqlo, have successfully used a professional ballerina in their ad campaigns) and your target demographic is not going to buy into it. I have danced ballet since the age of 3. I’m packing 22 years experience in ballet with a BFA in dance performance to boot, like many of my friends and peers who you may be trying to sell to. Not one of my peers seemed inclined to purchase any of the merchandise from the Ballet line. Instead my Facebook newsfeed was filled with angry dancers appalled and insulted by the way ballet was portrayed in the campaign and by some dancers who saw it as one big joke-the lack of good ballet technique is evident in the photos and the video, and many chose to point that out and make fun of it. Not only is the dancing sub-par, but some of the merchandise you’re trying to sell is slightly off putting. Selling “vintage” point shoes, in my opinion, sounds like a law suit waiting to happen whether or not you have a disclaimer. Some poor, uneducated soul is going to slip those on her feet and try to dance in them. It’s a broken ankle waiting to happen. Ballet dancers spend years building the strength in their toes, feet, ankles, legs, and upper body too to be able to hold themselves en pointe. They aren’t toys. I’m also not sure if the other ballet slippers you’re trying to sell are conducive to dancing at all. The functionality of some of the products is way off. Don’t get me wrong, I love that ballet is being recognized and incorporated into fashion but I, along with many others apparently, feel this campaign could have been so much more than it is with the use of a professional ballet dancer. I hope it’s at least considered for the next project.

  13. nope. shes not a dancer . Dancers will know this. Its hard to watch ***cringe!*** She might of watched Black Swan or something…..

  14. I’m glad to have found that my thoughts upon seeing the new FP Movement line were shared. I agree with those who felt (knew) this casting choice to be inappropriate. I think that Aggie has said it best, although I’d stress that although as a former ballet dancer who studied in a pre-professional school, yes, seeing this video and these videos makes me cringe, but what stands out most for me is what a poor marketing choice this was on Free People’s end…it makes me be suspicious of what other “inspirational” advertising campaigns of yours have been entirely scripted (this model could not have danced ballet since age 3, as she says in the video). Of course, this sort of manipulation is to be expected from a company who ultimately is trying to just get you to buy its products, but I thought that at least some of the non-corporate minds and hands behind FP had interests beyond the propagandic, and that this would include their doing real research and finding real girls to put in their campaigns and on the blog, whether they be dancers, surfers, yoginis…

  15. I am not a ballet dancer. Nor have I been since I was about 5 and took up tap instead. I do love watching ballet now though, and could tell almost immediately that this girl was no ballerina, and that ballet as an art form was being so poorly portrayed. She says she’s been dancing since she was 3- which could well be true, but she has definitely not been training that long in ballet.
    I am not surprised to find the comments section of this post so outraged, as it has already spread across my Facebook & tumblr feeds.
    I’m frustrated because any ballerina is beautiful in her movement. They carry themselves with grace and poise and a fluidity unlike anything else. They also work their asses off and do so much damage to their bodies to become their art form.

    I just feel like Free People, and you are a brand I truly love, just plucked a stunning model/girl you could pass off as a dancer, who looked good in the ‘movement’ clothes, and left it at that.

    My friend is a professional dancer, and shot with Ballet Zaida in your fpmovement clothes, I don’t see why this video could have been held up to those same standards.
    There are so many incredible ballerinas in your area who would have done this campaign such justice.
    It’s just a shame, really.

  16. With all the unpaid artists out there who have worked their bones to blood to perfect their art, this makes me furious. There are dancers out there grinding to obtain technical perfection… making pennies if they’re lucky. And they pay THIS young woman to SELL me athletic apparel?! Pay someone worth their dollar. To just choose someone with a pretty face, zero muscle tone (ballerinas are thin but have MUSCLE), and extremely poor technique is a total insult to what these people think dance is.

    Stop using our passion to (poorly) market to demographics you do not understand. Dancers can neither afford your $80 skirts, nor would they bother to support a company that clearly does not respect them enough to do a half decent job researching dance for their marketing. Huge fail.

  17. This campaign is an outrageously inaccurate portrayal of ballet. As dance has become more mainstream, it should have been obvious even to a non-dancer casting director that there are far better ways to promote a ballet “way of life” than by using an untrained model and showcasing such terrible technique that concerns about the model’s safety have been raised by the dance community with as much frequency as aesthetic objections. To the extent that the point of the ad is to make ballet seem accessible to even the untrained consumer, then advanced elements such as the use of pointe shoes should not have been included. Though I am not of the mindset that only ballet dancers in professional companies should be tapped for marketing campaigns, I do reject the choice to use a model with nearly zero training while claiming that ballet is a life-long dedication. This ad campaign makes a mockery of both the physical and artistic elements of ballet, and in so doing, makes a mockery of those who practice it with appreciation for both.

  18. I’m just so relieved everyone is having the same outrage as me. As a professional ballet dancer I will let you know this has made me lose respect for Free People. You clearly don’t care enough about art to even cast the right crew for this movement. I know this is not marketed towards ballet dancers only, but I can tell you that none of my dancer friends, myself included, will be buying anything from you. Now I hope all these comments on here and those all over Facebook and tumblr will get your attention Free People.

  19. hey bunheads she is a professional dancer, who also happens to be a model. she is not a professional ballerina, but a modern dancer. It’s clear she hasn’t done point in some years but she is not untrained, this is an add, so calm your farm. It’s about looking beautiful in the clothes, not about being the most beautiful ballet dancer. It’s not dancewear marketed for professional dancers quite clearly, but a ballet aesthetic. Bloch or other dancewear companies use dancers because they are selling to dancers. Here they are selling to everyone.
    Just like their bohemian clothes are inspired by the gypsies and boho babes of the world who find vintage clothes and make them cool, so is this campaign about taking that inspiration and making it for everyone. Their other models aren’t really painters or musicians or girls who live in ashrams. they’re models, that’s how these things work.
    Just be nice okay. If it really burns you go sign up to a modelling agency.

  20. Thanks for that link re Misty Copeland- such beautiful inspiring photos – wow, she is badass.

  21. I’m so insulted by this video. It’s clear she danced WHEN she was 3 not SINCE she was three. As a professional dancer this puts the wrong image out. Disappointed, free people, disappointed.

  22. Professional dancers worldwide are completely insulted by the lack of technique the model in your video has, and the lack of knowledge you have revealed to the world in your casting choice. It is clear to most of us that she hasn’t rely taken her craft seriously since the age of 3 – she would look a whole lot better if she did. What a sweet and tender fabricated story you have woven for this campaign! Her feet are atrocious, and she risks getting seriously injured. Your clothes are wonderful, but you have enraged and insulted many in the professional dance community who work hard every day to perfect their Art. Fire your casting director immediately and next time do some proper research before blasting a campaign that is so erroneous and disgusting to look at. I don’t want those f’ing clothes! You lose BIG time Free People!


    Professional Dancer at Lincoln Center with a BFA Conservatory Degree from a top school who has actually been dancing (and trying hard) since the age of 3

  23. I think the one ponche she does, and her port de bras are lovely. As an unprofessional ballet dancer, it’s nice to see a woman like me who loves dance, clearly, but isn’t some technical super star. Dance is for everyone. Not just the women who can do 32 fouettés.

  24. I realize you’re a business and trying different methods to sell clothes and reach different markets but the ballet video is cringe-worthy! Lovely model who probably danced when she was younger but doesn’t dance now and has no business being in pointe shoes. If you are selling and promoting ballet shoes you really should have hired a trained dancer not someone who doesn’t engage her abs and sickles her feet.
    I’m surprised the video and photos made it to your website….at no point in the whole process from casting to shooting to print did anyone say, hang on, this doesn’t look right?

  25. @Tilly
    This line is titled “Ballet”. So why wouldn’t they hire a professional ballet dancer? Why would they pick someone who is hardly even mediocre. She is an absolutely gorgeous woman, but I have 10 year old students who could dance circles around her.

  26. I am a professional photographer that shoots professional ballet dancers and I cringe and the sickled feet. What was the art director thinking? (Clearly not)- It makes me sad to see a powerful line of dance garments be photographed on someone who can’t point their foot. It’s just WRONG.

  27. this girl isn’t a ballerina, the surfer girl goes out when there are zero waves, and the yoga girl does the same move 4 times and drinks coffee (whats with the zoom in of her with her arm between her legs awkwardly stretching??) . To top it off the clothes are so boring and do not feel FP at all. fail.

  28. This is disgraceful. Not only is she not a trained ballerina, but you do a disservice to dancers by depicting offensive and dangerous (on pointe) technique. There is no excuse for this. There are so many beautiful dancers you could have used for this promotion who have ACTUALLY been dancing and working hard AT DANCE since age 3. It’s insulting to dancers to depict ballet in this way.
    Signed, a PAST fan of free people

  29. This is terrible. Take it down and try again. You’ve obviously upset enough people with lies in this campaign. She started dancing at three, but then stopped at age four. Her technique is so terrible no one can look past it and see the clothing, not that they should since it makes no sense to have designer clothes when you practice. Don’t make another mistake like the Urban Outfitters tutu denim overalls.

  30. This girl is not a ballet dancer, thats been established. While I encourage people to pick up new hobbies to empower them and enrich their lives it is clear that is not what is happening here either. They picked a pretty girl to sexualize their clothing to sell it to us. She does appears to wear a bra in the video but not in the promo photos. I am far more concerned for free people that I can pretty much see her nipples. Empowering real women via healthy life styles and encouraging self exploration is a noble cause and the reason I visit this blog daily for inspiration… Please do it in a responcible and realistic way and dont reduce women to objects by putting their “bits” on display.

  31. This ad is pathetic. Great, you want to launch a ballet inspired line, how difficult would it have been to cast an actual dancer? Her script is nice but whoever casted this girl has no clue or respect for ballet. I really hope this doesn’t go unnoticed by the public.

  32. Huge fail! Free people you need to remove this immediately. You should be so embarrassed! Might as well give her a script to say how she loves being a professional rugby player, it would be just as believable as this load of crap. Whoever gave the go ahead with this campaign deserves to be fired, then dragged to the theater to see what ballet really is.

  33. This makes me so sad and embarrassed for you guys. I respect the Free People brand oh so much but, as a dancer, this poor use of an untrained model gone “ballerina” is just terrible!

  34. This is extremely upsetting. While I was excited about the line, the lack of research that went into this campaign has ensured that I will not being buying one single item. Guess it’s time to go to Lululemon like always.

  35. This is so embarrassing. Bad move Free People, bad move. There are millions of real dancers out there who have love an opportunity like this.

  36. Why all the fury? Did anyone consider AT ALL that maybe Free People is purposely portraying someone IN THE MIDST of learning her art- is not perfect, is striving, is living a life of freedom through expression.. THAT is the attitude of Free People- go after your dreams. Additionally, Free People is just marketing a line of clothes with a ballet aesthetic. Are you saying that the line should only appeal to professional ballet dancers? If we were to see the clothes worn by only the most perfect ballerina, don’t you think that the clothes may not feel as approachable by “the rest of us”? Maybe you all would like to see a professional ballerina, but from the way it sounds, you would probably find something wrong with her too!! Lighten up and stop being mean.

  37. You just took a job away from someone who has been dedicating their lives to an art form that is in no way represented here. If you’re going to put an untrained dancer in the spot light don’t make her do a technique that takes decades to perfect. Have dance for the joy of it. You don’t have to do ballet to be a dancer. Give this job to a professional dancer, not a model.

  38. As a fellow dancer and movement lover, I appreciate the dancer’s dialogue and passion for ballet. However, the bad technique was concerning. I cringed watching her feet in those pointe shoes. If she continues dancing in this way then injury will be inevitable. I’m all for promoting freedom, happiness, fulfillment and expression through dance- but please, present it in a way that encourages healthy movement. Pointe shoes are not just a pretty accessory.

  39. This is the worst ad I’ve ever had to watch. Even the picture of her pointing her toe is appalling. It is quite obvious even from this girls arms that she is not a ballerina. Perhaps she is a dancer, and I like the idea of having passion, but this is so fake it makes me cringe to watch – I will never buy free people ballet wear.

  40. As a ballet dancer, I appreciate the line of clothing and think that the model is beautiful.
    That being said, i am highly offended in the casting of a non-dancer in a commercial and to model clothing that is targeted at ballet dancers. She probably danced at some point in her life, but she is not a ballerina. Why would you not ask Aesha Ash, Misty Copland…who have a similar look to this girl and who have ACTUAL Training?

    I know that I wont be purchasing anything from this line, simply because of the way it is modeled so poorly.

    It really isnt even about the sickled feet, the poor technique or the lack of knowledge on an extensive subject.. I am more offended by Free People using a girl who seemed marketable to them and basically embarassing her and putting her in the forefront of all of this controversy. She probably has no clue how bad she is.

    The moment FP decided to do a ballet line, the marketing person should have hired a ballet consultant to help with the hiring of an ACTUAL BALLET DANCER for the ad and for the Photo shoot of the clothing.

  41. Please remove this from the Internet immediately. Never mind how offensive this ad campaign is, how inauthentic it is, or how dangerous and awful it is…

    You’ve ruined this model’s career by subjecting her to such controversy because your casting director couldn’t stand to do a little research.

    Good luck selling a single piece of clothing.

  42. HORRIBLE! This ad is dangerous and misleading. The “dancewear” should be billed as fashion only because obviously the poor girl in the campaign has no skills only fantasy. You should be ashamed, not only did you set up the model for criticism you also insulted every trained dancer un the process. Lose lose. Ever heard of Under Armour? Check it out – they get it.

  43. As an actuall dancer that has been dancer sence I was 3yrs old. I am seriously offened by this video. It is a horrible example of a ballet dancer. It literally hurt to watch this video .

  44. I am so saddened by this ad. Not only did you take a gorgeous girl and make her look awful, you obviously have no respect for the true art of ballet.
    Some of us have spent our whole life training to become professional dancers and in one ad you have made a joke of it. Shame on you.

  45. I am a 17 year old and I’ve been dancing since I was 3. There is no way that girl has been dancing even as long is me. At least not on pointe. Her ankles look way too fragile to be dancing pointe away from the barre. Also, if this is the way the public views a well trained dancer there is obviously not enough exposure. I understand how her body is attractive in a modeling perspective but when you are trying to sell to dancers at least have some respect for the art you are trying to make profit of. This is so poorly done, it moves me to never buy your dancewear.

  46. I am about to become a professional dancer and I work as a stylist for your company. It truly saddens me that you think ballet is this easy. Ballet requires so much more than just ‘movement.’ It requires a large amount of brainwork at every second for every single muscle in your body. This ad is giving the world a horrible perception of ballet, while it made all professional and semi-professional ballet dancers cringe. I am truly insulted that you hired a model to play a ballet dancer while she clearly has no pre-professional, serious ballet training. This is nothing against the girl, she’s a beautiful model, but this puts the ballet world to shame. When becoming a professional ballet dancer, ballet takes up your entire life, and to have this advertisement portray bad ballet, it insults the whole ballet world. I can’t begin to understand why you didn’t hire a real professional ballet dancer, it’s unrespectful.

  47. I am a ballet dancer and I kill myself every single say just to perfect my technique. This advertisement has put everything I do to shame. I also work for your company and this is extremely insulting. I don’t understand why you paid a model to play a ballet dancer, when plenty of professionals , including myself, would have done this for free. I’m appalled.

  48. Honestly, who green-lighted this? Who chose this model? Who oversaw this project? Did the people involved in designing and marketing this line of clothing know anything about ballet? It should be obvious that this model has very little, if any, real ballet training; she is beautiful and she loves to dance, but she is so inexperienced it was hard for me to look at the pictures and watch the video…not to mention it’s dangerous for her to attempt to dance en pointe when even people who actually KNOW how to do it get injured. Now you’ve put this poor girl into the line of fire. It’s not her fault she hasn’t had training; the real fault lies with those who oversaw the marketing of this line. It’s a massive, massive oversight on their part.

    Ballet is not just beautiful and graceful – it is an intensive, athletic, and strenuous art form. It’s my life, not some frilly pastime; I don’t dust off my pointe shoes whenever I want to feel pretty. I live and breathe for it, it’s not a hobby. It’s almost embarrassing that you’re passing this off as actual ballet, and it’s saddening for the rest of us who work so hard to fight this image of ballet being so frilly and girly and EASY. It’s not easy, it’s absolutely brutal. I come out of rehearsals literally dripping sweat, with bleeding toes and popped blisters, wake up in the morning with muscles so sore I can hardly walk. Working in the studio is a constant battle, and we have to make it look like it’s effortless. I’ve struggled with years of injury, endured surgery, weeks on crutches, needle procedures, hours of physical therapy all because I wanted to dance again.

    If you want to market clothing to the serious dancer, find a model who knows what she’s doing (Misty Copeland with Under Armour, anyone?). It would also be helpful if those designing the clothes and shooting the models could educate themselves on what ballet is – or at least consult someone who knows the difference. Even though the actual clothing is stunning, no one who is really serious about dance is going to be attracted to this line – simply because of the way you’ve portrayed it. (But if you’re targeting customers who have no clue what ballet is, good job, you’ve probably succeeded.)

    Ballet is not an accessory, something you whip out to impress people or to feel pretty, oh yeah, I’m a ballerina. No. It’s a job, it’s a struggle, it requires discipline and focus and passion as well as talent; people devote their entire lives to ballet, and this…it’s just plain disrespectful. The pictures, the video, the model – this goes against everything that ballet is. I URGE YOU TO REEVALUATE THE MARKETING FOR THIS LINE.

  49. I just don’t understand why Free People wouldn’t cast a professional or even pre-professional dancer. Like … why not?? There are so many girls who have worked so hard for so long and get little to no recognition. This ad is a reminder of how unfortunate it is that dancers are so undervalued. Actresses and models are always the celebrities and in this case it is no different. This girl may have some ballet or dance background but if ballet was truly her passion she would have invested enough time and energy to have much better technique. It is one thing to claim to be a dancer and to express yourself through dance but it is quite another to claim to be a ballet dancer. Ballet is a codified and technical art form that requires rigorous training driven by passion, not simply passion alone. If they had actually taken the time to look they probably could have found a truly trained dancer with a very similar look to this girl and why not give that girl a chance to shine? I feel bad for this girl because she is being subjected to so much ridicule but if us “bunheads” sound mean it is only because we are angry at being completely misrepresented. I am happy to see so many other members of the ballet community speaking up. Please Free People, next time respect your “inspiration” enough to put in some research time.

  50. Brooke, I tend to agree with you. I feel that Free People strives to empower women to go out and enrich their lives by taking on new challenges and trying something different. This is what makes Free People awesome to us. I am not a ballet dancer and, having no background with this art, I took the model at face value and assumed she was a real”trained ballet dancer” because that was how she was portrayed- not as a novice who was exploring her dreams.

    Accurate representation here is clearly important… Had she been portrayed accurately as a beginner or simply an enthusiast I think there would have been a better reaction and a sense of support for her. Interest in the fine arts is a beautiful thing and should be readily encouraged and not held as some sort of “elitist thing”. HOWEVER, with that being said respect should be given to your target audience.

    Respect is not being given here to the art, or the hardworking women who partake in it. This is an inaccurate portrayal promoting a pretty face and a barely covered bust to convey such a dancer as a sex object- to inspire something else other than taking up a new interest. This degrades us all, not just dancers.

    Ballet dancers consider themselves serious athletes, as they most certainly have every right to. You would not see a man equivalently portrayed this way for an athletic ad champaign.

    I think FP had their heart in the right place and the whole “get fit” challenge is a great idea.. This specific post was just illexecuted and distasteful on many levels. I hope they develop their ideas more fully in the future and come out with more of the higher caliber posts we are used to seeing.

  51. I studied ballet for fifteen years before I gave it up and went to university and we were always told how important strength and technique are, especially when you’re dancing on pointe. Getting our pointe shoes was not a right, it was a privilege, and we were only allowed to do so when our teachers deemed us to be strong enough.
    Frankly, it is downright dangerous to put someone who has clearly never had any proper ballet training in a pair of pointe shoes – she could have really hurt herself. She does not even have the strength in her ankles to bouree on the spot without a sickled foot. Even without the pointe work you can clearly see that she cannot use her core from the way her weight is thrown back, plus her hips lift when she raises her legs and her feet do not fully stretch even when she is in flats.
    The ad gives the wrong impression to those who have not had any ballet training, and as for those who have? It’s insulting. You have alienated the people who would have bought your products.
    hy cast a model when there are so many dancers out there who work their arses off for their art form and would have been grateful for an opportunity like this?

  52. From Anon: “Ballet dancers consider themselves serious athletes, as they most certainly have every right to. You would not see a man equivalently portrayed this way for an athletic ad champaign.” You hit the nail on the head. Not only is this offensive to people who take ballet seriously, it’s a feminist issue as well. How are we supposed to fight this perception of ballet when people like you refuse to portray it in a way that isn’t frou-frou and girly? May I remind you there are also gentlemen who are ballet dancers? It’s a difficult, precise and ATHLETIC art. The expression, passion and artistry must be paired with adequate technique – if anything, for the sake of safety. This is a punch in the face to ballet dancers.

  53. This is laughably bad, I’m afraid, and an insult to every dancer who has trained for their art. Do your research next time, and consult someone who knows what they’re talking about.


    That’s the same as asking

    You guys are pretentious, maladjusted, grammatically unaware, and horribly rude group of girls. If you would take a second to realize that this is a commercial, not a biopic then you could take a little trip off your high pointe horse and apply a little logic to your comments. Now, in this commercial’s defense the actress did nail one thing… the sheer vapidity of all you “lifelong dancers”. The actual verbal content of the ad is just as nonsensical and soul-crushingly content-free as your arguments. Y’all are stupid. Go fucking fight about how a bulimic is purging wrong in a PSA, and how they should have used a real bulimic. “AS A LIFELONG BULIMIC, I KNOW THAT HER METHOD OF PURGING IS COMPLETELY OUT OF TUNE WITH HOW THE REAL THING DOES IT”.


  55. Zero muscle tone and body discipline for a dancer. c’mon Free People, this is insulting to all dancers and athletes. IF you’re going to make a shallow and fake commercial, at least put a disclaimer in the ad.

  56. Free People, I have always loved your clothes… even purchased many dresses for my pre-professional company to perform in… BUT if you have to sell handmade ballet slippers please at least put the shoes on someone with a beautiful foot that preferably is a foot with years of fine tuning the shape for dance.. I ask nothing less than the way you choose models for your clothing… if you are making ballet inspired clothing for us… Please make sure you hire real ballet dancers to move in them… we are pretty inexpensive to hire, probably much less than your high priced fashion models you are using that do not have appropriate dance training … …. the dance community is offended because we spend so many years, weeks, days, and hours struggling and perfecting the ART of dance. These photos are less than perfect. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at your recent campaign of dance inspired fashion…Geesh

  57. You should probably just delete this whole entry so we can stop looking and commenting on it.

  58. Let me preface this by saying I have been a professional dancer for 19 years and I have great training and technique. All the people up in arms over the FREE PEOPLE DANCE VIDEO thing need to check themselves. 1. Free People is not required to hire a “professional” dancer 2. The video specifically talks about passion… some of you technicians could use a lesson in passion. just sayin’. 3. “Her foot is…” so the f@#k what. ANYBODY can dance ANYWAY they want. Personal expression doesn’t need to look a certain way and anybody at any level of ballet training is allowed to dance ballet wherever and whenever the f@#k they want. 4. You are being exclusive, elitist, and narrow and you sound like an a$$h*le.

  59. This girl has no grace. She actually has no muscles. She can not even point her feet properly, there is no real understanding of movements she performs. This is ridiculous and awkward. I can see a pretty model with big tits and small ass who plays ballerina and is not even feeling awkward about it. Really insulting to dancers.

  60. Oh my goodness. NO!!!!!!!!!!! What is this? Why???!!!?? Looks like she’s taken 1 or two classes in her whole life, what a mess. I’m sorry, but this is a huge disgrace for ballet dancers. It’s like if you put Obama in a commercial as a basketball player. THANK YOU FOR TEAMING UP WITH BALLET ZAIDA.

  61. I applaud you on having chosen an African American model/actress, that is an area that needed work. Diversity was missing from the brand. However, it’s a total letdown that the actress has been put in this situation of hate and criticism solely because of poor casting. This video should be taken down to protect this woman who can read these foul comments from hateful users. I am embarrassed for her, yes, but more so for you, Free People. Recently, with the controversy of the lack of diversified models, you fell silent. As a daily reader of the blog, I urge you to make a statement about this video or I’m afraid I, and many other faithful free people shoppers, will stop buying from this once-beloved brand.

  62. If this is a line to target dancers, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, the goal is to connect and understand the world I am coming from. That video and the above pictures prove your brand is complete disconnected and really has no idea how we function. I purposely would not want anything to do with your clothes given how you represented what should be my reflection and envisioning of how I imagine myself in the dance world. Consumers put a certain level of trust and loyalty towards brands they like. I just don’t understand how you guys completed missed the mark. Can you imagine an ad where a gymnast lands with her feet spread apart or even outside the lines? It would make absolutely no sense even to the general public…the same holds for your ad. It saddens me that that is what you guys think dancers look like. Clearly you don’t understand us.

  63. Another comment. I’m not discussing the model’s passion as dance is social and open to everyone. What is the problem is that her placement on pointe is so incorrect that it is dangerous to her and those who are seeing the video and attempting to try pointe shoes on “just for fun.” I honestly view this as a hazard. It is not safe to show her mis-alignment.
    This video would have been fine if she was without pointe shoes just dancing around in the studio. That’s freedom of expression without boundaries. Using pointe shoes without proper form would be the same as watching someone drive a car with no experience what so ever…would you actually want to watch that?

  64. This spot brings tears to my eyes and NOT in a good way. Sort of embarrassing for her. So much hard work goes into doing it correctly and your body does not forget. I don’t know if her body ever knew. Sorry, but that’s how I feel.

  65. For me, it’s an insult because it made me feel as if dancers were not “skinny” or “pretty” enough to both dance and model for an ad. Obviously, ballerinas have more muscle and form. It’s not the girls fault, that someone wrote some copy that she was paid to read about dancing since she was three. I teach dance for a living and I can tell you ANYONE who had 20 years of dance training, even the worst training, would not look like that. Dancers are treated badly all the time, and I’ve known too many days of my life where “we will just teach the models to dance” has come about. It is insulting, but don’t worry dance community- you can get these exact items at discount dance for under $5. We all know that. Xx

  66. She’s a beautiful girl. And of course, yes she doesn’t have to be perfect. But they shouldn’t pretend like she was a real dancer when she’s not. If they wanted to promote beginner ballet, or “ballet for everyone” then they should have presented her as a beginner or untrained lover of movement. HOWEVER, she was portrayed as a trained professional which was wrong. They should have edited better, had her do modern movements, and NOT put her on pointe. Bottom line is, that it is just plain dangerous. Would you have an untrained model in a wrestling ring or fencing or jumping hurdles? No, because that would also be dangerous. I don’t think people realize how difficult real pointe work is and how you HAVE to have proper training to wear pointe shoes. That shit is serious and you can get seriously hurt!

  67. As a professional ballet dancer who has devoted my life to the art form this video hurt my soul. The feet, arms legs potions it was just painful to watch!! Please use a real dancer this is insulting to our profession.

  68. I respect and greatly appreciate FP’s choice to try and show the beauty, dedication, and athletesisim of ballet but they didn’t quite hit the mark. I do appreciate that they are trying to show the beauty of ballet but I can’t help but wonder how much better portrayed it could be if done with a professional ballerina. No disrespect to the beautiful young woman modeling. It’s clear she hasa some experience in dance. But thank you for trying to show the world what we love to do everyday!

  69. I hope everyone who complimented this was being sarcastic and not actually blind to the fact that this video is just NOT IT.

  70. I actually much agree with Brooke. I think the idea behind this comercial was originally to show someone who just loves to dance, but is by no means a professional.
    However, I think that this could have made a lot clearer, because obviously a lot of people interpreted the information that was given such that she was supposed to be a professional dancer.
    Also, why did they have to have her dance en pointe? Ballet is NOT just that! And like so many professional dancers here commented, it’s really something you have to earn through hard practice and work. Skipping that part could have saved them a lot of the fury, while still getting their message acrosss (that everyone can dance!).

  71. Wow! Truly the most awful portrayal of ballet EVER. Who ever casted this should get fired. If the girl truly is a modern dancer (obviously not a well trained one) she should have been dancing modern, not talking about ballet. Free People- never buying from you again! Outrageous

  72. As a dancer I find this insulting. The girl is beautiful, that’s true. But in my opinion, that was a poor casting choice. This is cast primarily on looks, not talent. If you are trying to appeal to the ballet community, then you should have done some research on ballet. The sickened feet, poor alignment, toes that can’t get over the box… *cringe!* Why not hire a real dancer with years of experience to play this part? Dancers spend so much time in a studio, working as hard as they can to accomplish clean technique. When I saw this ad, I did not see any knowledge of classical ballet technique. I found it embarrassing to have this video representing ballet dancers. It’s certainly not the fault if the model, she didn’t know any better. If she has actually been dancing since she was three, when she was simply trained poorly. I think that the casting choice for this ad was terrible.

  73. Now I know *exactly* what I’m going to say to my future children if they ever consider ballet: “No way. It will turn you into an insufferable, pretentious snob.”

  74. Jane1990 – And I know what I’ll say to my future children if they want to take up ballet and encounter your future children.

    “It’s not their fault for being ignorant of the kind of dedication it takes to be a dancer. Just look at the kind of mother they have.”

  75. Oh, Free People…
    I understand your objective, but really? Did you even bother to watch any videos of real ballerinas to see what they are supposed to look like? Real, hard-working, exhausted ballerinas? I don’t think you did. Did you want a good model who is also an award-winning ballerina?
    Here: SAGE HUMPHRIES. She is a Ford model, but has also been dancing for many, many years. Look her up. Please.
    And I’m sorry, no ballerina in this world will ever buy your clothes. Not only are they far out of our price range, but they are simply impractical for true ballet.
    This is just a bad idea.

  76. Enough people have commented on the dancer. I will leave her alone. This will be painful enough for her. I can’t imagine why you would do that to this, no doubt very nice, young lady.

    As a dance photographer and dance videographer I was just as insulted and angered at the photography. Cut off feet and other body parts, out of focus places in a highly edited piece. Basically just showing ignorance of dance. Clearly the shooter or shooters did not “see” dance when they were shooting. I go to rehearsals, as many as I can, I learn the routines, I watch before shooting, I also dance (not at a fine level but enough to inform my shooting with muscle memory), I learn the choreography and study how the dancers move and what the pieces are about before shooting. I spend a lot of time learning not just technique but meanings, story lines, performer motion (sharp, quick, languid, etcetera), timing, interactions and more.

    These shooters do what I call “shooting the camera.” That is they know how to focus, expose point and click. They learned how to frame in their art composition class because they certainly do not frame the dance or the dancer. It is the kind of framing most photographers do where the photograph or video merely uses some bits and parts from dancers as so many spare parts to stick into their (emphasize their) photo or video. Most photographers think that just because you point your camera at dancers in motion and press a button that you’ve shot dance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Maybe they need a good dose of Gene Kelley movies, but they probably wouldn’t see what he did unless they dance themselves. The need to look. They need to listen. They also need to match the working music track to the production music they laid down underneath the whole commercial. They cut back and forth from barre to floor to standing around without musical matching. They cut in the middle of movements, and keep the camera in motion and at odd angles, apparently trying to make camera movement look cool but without respecting dance itself.

    Which brings me to another item. I don’t know how this young lady dances. There are plenty of bad techniques and out of positions and so forth but this is also a matter of selection while shooting and at editing. These shooters do not know enough to shoot dance.

    There are a number of good shooters for dance. They are really a specialty so not any old photographer will do, no matter how good in fashion or commercials or etcetera they are. You should come to me, or to the other dance photographer on here (I think her name is Fong but I didn’t spot her again when I took a quick look up the list of comments, so many on here), or the woman who made “1st Position” or the shooters who did “Mao’s Last Dancer” and more than I can name. Good dance shooters. Get someone who knows what they are looking at and hearing (again, important, you need to listen to shoot). People whose shooting, still or video, is musical and really is a part of the dance.

  77. Just one more thing, or so. When I said dance photographer (my earlier comment) I don’t mean studio setups, I am talking about production and performance. Totally different territory.

    The videographer(s) chose to use edits rather than dance to show “dance.” Whoever is shooting and editing this does not seem to recognize either dance or musicality when they point their camera and make their edits.

    I would never want to subject a dancer to these criticisms by showing them in poor position or with poor technique. All dancers have their off moments, even the best. Those never see the light of day with me.

    Back to the shooter(s). Most non-dance shooters come to any job with certain preconceived (trained) ideas about framing for headshots, cu, long, etcetera and certain ideas for cutting with a music track (cut a lot from shot to shot, chop it into rapid, short pieces). When you shoot dance you need to throw out all of that.

    Knowing how to set the camera should be assumed. Knowing how to “see” dance and to frame for dance is totally different. The subject may be a solo tight (whole body), pas de deux, an ensemble, a solo with whole stage (depends on the use of space in the piece). This is not any other type of photography.

  78. Seems like enough said about poor technique and dangerous way of dancing of the girl, but let me be counted as another one disappointed/upset/disagreed for FP’s choice so FP know how bad this was. And I hope no girls without experience will go buy pointe shoes and copy this poor technique or dance en pointe without any knowledge because that will lead to serious injuries. I like FP and I have a lot of clothes from them but this is really bad move of FP. You should be able to hire professional consultant. Very disappointed.

  79. She is certainly beautiful and she obviously likes to dance but she has probably just started to work en pointe and it shows. They should have chosen someone with much more experience. She stands horribly en pointe and some of her moves are stressful to watch since she could fall or twist her ankles with her poor pointe technique. She has hardly any arch and she is not standing right on her pointes. Pointe work is a very serious matter and cannot be taken so lightly. Poor choice!

  80. @Kimberlee, you nailed it. The dance community is very welcoming of new dancers. We LOVE beginners because it means that someone is learning about our art form and developing respect for what we do. Its the fact that this campaign is labeled “ballet” which requires the use of a very rigid and specific technique. If it had been labeled “dance” and instead of the misuse of pointe shoes, it featured the passion and joy that movement inspires (you could have even used the same, beginner level model and it would have been very appropriate!), we would have loved it.

  81. P.S.
    Thank you Mike Strong for your two cents. I’ve never been on your side of the camera, but I was so frustrated that I could never really SEE the movement being performed, and now I know why!

  82. I don’t believe it is snobbish to care about how ones livelihood and lifelong art is portrayed (spoofs and well done satires warmly welcomed), nor to be concerned about the safety and health of the lovely model in this ad, or of any impressionable little kiddos who might try putting on specialized footwear they’re not ready for, and attempting movements that could harm them. (Although, I will concede that some kiddos and even adults are going to try on pointe shoes, and attempt doing things in them, whether or not they see this ad, and, indeed, watching beautifully trained, professional dancers probably inspires even more of that than does this ad, so that argument might not hold much water. Still, if that’s going to happen, at least they should have a god example to emulate.)

    ANYway, I can’t help thinking this ad campaign may be proving to be a stroke of genius: Look at all the free publicity they’re getting, and think about how many thousands of potential customers have been newly introduced to this brand (I had never heard of Free People clothing, and likely never would have, absent this brouhaha; there are a few reasons why I’ll probably never become a customer, but perhaps other newbies will). Honestly, given all that, how much does this company care about how a particular discipline is represented in their commercial? Much more to the point, for Free People, is how sales are going. I do feel strongly though, that any other pursuit they choose to feature, be it yoga, surfing, gymnastics, running, basketball, jai alai, or any other athletic discipline, should also be portrayed through an individual or individuals who really love practicing or competing in it, but who are clearly just not terribly good at, or well trained in it. Just to be fair, and also to stick with the theme they’ve established, that’s been so effective. Clearly they had the wrong idea when launching this line earlier this month, when they did indeed bring in a trio of trained, reasonably capable seeming (from what can be gleaned from the photos–I could certainly quibble critically, but let’s not go there) ballet dancers to show off the new glad rags, as shown here: And you know what? Those togs don’t actually look as nice on those dancers as they do on the charming, rather inept (ballet-wise only, mind you) young lady in the controversial ad.

    And, speaking of that young lady, to all those so concerned about how awful all this fuss must be for her, I wouldn’t worry: This is probably the highest-profile gig she’s had up till now (forgive me if I’m wrong), commenter after commenter has remarked on how beautiful she is, regardless of what they think of the ad or her ballet skill level, and she’s probably being seen and considered for plenty more modeling opportunities that never would have otherwise come her way, were it not for this “terrible,” “insulting,” “offensive,” “outrageous” advert. Chances are she’s too busy following up on those and maybe some acting auditions too, to even take time to look at the many responses her work has inspired, in the nooks and crannies of the internet. So, good for her, and I wish her all success. Now it’s back to the barre and my drab, largely unglamorous ballet life for me. If only someone would put me in an ad about how passionately much I love to play classical piano, and all the pianists would start throwing verbal tomatoes at my pitiful efforts, I might get somewhere.

  83. Oops–That last sentence of my first paragraph should mention a “good example,” not a “god” one. I sure don’t want to rile up a bunch of religious outrage, on top of all this! Good night, now.

  84. People are being willfully obtuse. The point of the ad wasn’t to be an instructional video on the proper technique of ballet, the point was finding passion and beauty in movement.

    Besides, if the nasty attitudes displayed in the comments from the “professional dancers” is indicative of what dancers are like, I can see why FP decided to go another way.

    FYI to the “professionals”: Ballerina is a titled that is earned and rarely given out. 99.9% of ballet dancers are not Ballerinas/Ballerinos.

  85. This video is insulting. My daughter HAS danced since age 3. Now, age 15, she has been on pointe for about three years. She EARNED her pointe shoes through hours and hours of work. It literally takes years to prepare a dancer’s feet for pointe work. This woman obviously has not been trained.

    Ballet is special because it is both an art form and a sport. For this model to throw on some pointe shoes and call herself a ballet dancer is a harsh insult to those who have trained their entire lives. That is why people are upset. If the model was performing a different genre (modern, freestyle, etc.)- basically anything but ballet or tap- the company would not have this public outcry from the dance community.

    There is nothing wrong with being passionate about dance or anything else, but you can’t just put on some pointe shoes and start dancing without any training!! It is just really embarrassing for the model and the company!

  86. Obviously, advertising tells lies – the kind of lies people want to hear so they buy whatever goods you are peddling. But the key is to hide from your audience the fact that you are lying to their faces. This fails so unbelievably, that it’s laughable. You are putting this beautiful model in a position where she seems delusional and ridiculous, even if she is just reading a script that she had nothing to do with writing.

    It’s just not true to say that she is any kind of “dancer.” I think that all art forms should be inclusive and inviting for people to learn, but she has not learned ANY kind of dance, at least not within the last several years. It’s not elitist and exclusive to state the truth. And come on, this is just as insulting to modern and contemporary dancers as it is to ballerinas. Any dancer who has actually trained and loves to dance knows how to move, how to bend, how to jump, and how make their bodies radiate with expression. She flops and flaps, and twitches. By all means if this girl actually is enthusiastic, let her learn, but do not showcase her out of her depth. No one would want that. I feel for her.

    If you are going to cast a model/actress as a dancer, as many films have done, you need both a) to educate them for months and b) use a stunt double. You would not ask her to do handsprings and say she is a gymnast. You would not ask her to perform an olympic-style dive off of a high dive. You would not have her pole vault and say she’s been training for years. Dancers are athletes of the highest caliber, so WHY would you make her do something that not only looks ridiculous on an untrained person, but is actually dangerous?

  87. this burns my eyes she is not a dancer. This is why the world thinks ballet is a joke sometimes

  88. As a professional pointe shoe specialist, it is my job to provide first time students as well as professionals with the highest quality pointe shoe fitting possible. This involves educating the dancers with the most safe and healthiest option for their body.

    This ad is incredibly insulting to the dance community as a whole. Pointe shoes are something that are EARNED. Through hard work and dedication, dancers achieve going en pointe through years of training.

    I take pride in my job, and as a former dancer en pointe I urge FP to retract this campaign and re-evaluate their objective with this “trend”


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  90. That is awful. She is not a dancer and certainly not a ballet dancer. Insulting to the real dancers of the world.

  91. I loved the video. It was different and was shot with commercialism in mind. Everyone has the right to think outside the box and be cornholed. This young woman could have actually had a problem with her legs or muscles that forced her to have that form that all of you object to. Don’t be a hater and find fault in whats not the norm. Be open to change.

  92. I cannot believe that Free People were too lazy to go out and hire a professional dancer. The woman in their add is not only using bad technique, but her arches are non-existent, and her ankles are extremely weak. In other words, if she were enrolled in an actual ballet class, she would need to wait 2-3 more years of dancing and strengthening before her body is strong enough to dance en pointe.

  93. I mean Jeez, they really couldn’t get a professional dancer to do their ad? I guess they wanted a young, pretty, African-American woman, but they could have gotten someone like Misty Copeland or Micheala DePrince (spelling, anyone?) who actually will promote their company and not cause them all the bad publicity. I do not blame the woman in the video, but the company, for they sold an inexperienced dancer as a professional. The woman could brake her ankles sickling the entire time like that. You don’t just go en pointe cause it looks fun, you have to train for several years before you can dance on your toes, and this woman has obviously skipped that step. To the normal, untrained eye, she looks like a beautiful ballet dancer, but if you are trying to promote dance clothes to dancers, you can’t expect this huge mistake to go unnoticed. If you think that there is nothing wrong with the video, then you should look up a video of Misty Copeland and watch how she holds her feet.

  94. Geeze. SO many judgmental comments. Not everyone has had the chance to be in ballet classes their entire life. Maybe she never had an opportunity. Maybe she learned her passion late in life. Who knows!
    To the bra comment–I never wear bras unless it’s a sports bra for running…so…again, why so judgmental?

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