Free People is a brand I have worked with before and always found them to be lovely people, but Angie from Norwegian Wood emailed me some memes she'd found on Tumblr which basically call out Free People on their shots for the 'ballet' section from their 'FP Movement' label, and I could not have agreed more with the sentimenst in these memes.
They, for some reason unknown to me, opted to use a model rather than a dancer to show off the range, which in itself isn't a bad thing if you keep it very vague, but instead they made the model wear pointe shoes and stand en pointe and do very specific movements and exercises.
To a dancer or anyone with any kind of ballet knowledge - i.e. the potential customer they are trying to attract - the result is embarassing and actually rather insulting. It minimises how difficult ballet is to perform but it's also irresponsible as it shows dangerous feet positions en pointe. In all instances of the model being en pointe, her feet are badly 'sickling' nor can she get over onto the box of the shoes. Sickling is not only considered to be ridiculously ugly in ballet, but it's also dangerous as it causes the feet to roll to one side which will cause serious ankle injuries and weak muscle development - not an issue for one photoshoot but very serious for anyone looking at it and deciding to pop on some pointe shoes without supervision. So for FP to use images utterly rife with incorrect alignment is misguided at best, dangerous at worst. Obviously you would not expect anyone who doesn't dance ballet to be able to wear pointe shoes correctly, so even more reason to hire someone who does.
The feet are the dancers main tool. Beautiful, strong feet are hugely admired in the world of ballet so the last thing we want to see are sickled feet, like these:
Even if they couldn't afford to hire a real dancer to model the clothing, they at the very least should have had someone familiar with ballet on set to direct the model's poses. As it is, the shoot, for the most part, looks ridiculous.
I understand that ballet is fashionable but ballet is also incredible difficult and the potential for serious injury is abundant when done incorrectly. They should have merely eluded to ballet rather than being so literal and getting it badly wrong. The model simply sitting with pointe shoes beside her would have worked better than getting the poor girl to actually wear them and proceed to decimate everything that makes pointe, and ballet, beautiful.
The internet is filled but terrible representations of ballet. I come across horrendous staged images of people posing as dancers for 'arty' ballet shots all the time and it's as clear as the nose on my face that the models have never once danced ballet let alone wear pointe shoes. But for a huge brand such as Free People to not go the extra step and hire a dancer to model really disappoints me, especially as the range itself is very beautiful and definitely something I would have bought.
I hope FP would consider using real dancers in the future. It'll make the images look one million times better and will represent ballet in the shining, beautiful light it deserves.