Spotted! Ballet BC ditches 200 tutus

The organization's dancers showed they prefer booty shorts to frilly pink skirts in a Vancouver stunt for commuters.

Ballet BC decorated light poles and trees along Vancouver’s busy Seymour Street in the wee hours of the morning recently, brightening a rainy day with 200 pink tutus.

As people started making their way to work, volunteers handed the tutus to motorists stuck in traffic and pedestrians passing by.

The goal of the stunt was to prove to the public that at Ballet BC, the dancers don’t wear tutus anymore. They prefer less traditional dancing attire, including booty shorts, Jay Rankin, executive director, Ballet BC, tells MiC.

‘This was a broad-based appeal to people who have no specific connection to Ballet BC,’ he says. ‘The message was that we’re not what the [general public] think of when they think of ballet, which is tutus and pointe shoes. In actual fact, we’re more progressive, more interesting, and more dynamic and modern.’

The stunt was organized by consultants Joanne Turner and Katie Ainsworth, who donated their time and skills for the cause. It was part of a larger campaign that includes print ads in the Vancouver Sun and Georgia Straight and wild postings through the downtown core. There are also radio ads on local stations.

It all leads up to the start of the Ballet BC season on Nov. 17.

Derek von Essen worked on the creative and Richard Forzley, marketing manager at Vancouver Civic Theatres, handled the buy.

Ballet BC is coming out of a dark time financially, after going bankrupt just a year and a half ago, and is now banking on this rebranding to turn the company around. Reaching out to people who haven’t attended the ballet before is a must if the company wants to recover and grow, Rankin says.

‘We know there are a lot of tire-kickers out there. There are those samplers, people we know will like us but just haven’t for some reason made that decision to watch ballet. So long as we continue to deliver on what we’re saying, which is cool and funky, which we are, I really think it’ll pay off.’