Why Does The Dance Community Care About Celebrities & Ballet?

Photo: Marc Romanelli/Getty Images.
This week, Vanity Fair posted a video of Elle Fanning, decked out in ballet gear, teaching viewers how to perform a piqué turn en pointe. Just a couple of weeks ago, the magazine posted a similar video of artist Petra Collins teaching ballet. And then there was Kendall Jenner, who did a ballet-themed shoot and video with Vogue España. All three times, something that might seem strange happened: Professional dancers went absolutely apeshit. So, why would these celebrity moments lead to an outpouring of criticism from the dance world?
To professional dancers, these shoot concepts are frustrating. Their issue? They work their tails off their entire young lives for a one-in-a-million shot at this kind of opportunity. While there's usually less anger when media companies use celebs who have dance training and experience (as Fanning and Collins do), the disappointment is hard for some people to stomach. (I was a strict ballet dancer for 18 years, and have a BFA in Dance, so I've definitely been part of some of these conversations.)
To be clear, this isn't in any way about the celebrities themselves: It's about the brands who decide it's a good idea to go this route. And it seems like the idea stems from a common celeb-video trope: Have a celebrity teach a surprising skill. So what's pro dancers' point? Use them instead! There are so many dancers who are just waiting in the wings for a shining moment of getting noticed in the "real world." There are even tons who are celebrated for having great fashion sense, if that happens to be the angle of the story. And employing them for videos, ad campaigns, and other content is (hopefully) a chance for a hardworking, likely-underpaid pro to get a paycheck.
Whichever side of this debate you fall on, one thing is clear: Like actresses, trained dancers are hardworking, talented people. Just maybe try not to get them riled up.
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