In step: Benjamin Millepied and BETC dance to a different beat
Choreographer and director (of Black Swan fame) Benjamin Millepied has dragged the dance workout video out of the 80s, and given it a Los Angeles-style makeover.
From this week, fitness and dance enthusiasts across the US can sign-up and experience elegantly crafted video workouts, choreographed and led by the fresh-faced dancers of Millepied’s ballet-meets-contemporary studio, LA Dance Project. The 31 interactive workouts, including Cardio, Floor Routines and Easy Legs, emphasise the art of movement, capturing some of the city’s prima ballerinas against the backdrop of its most striking hotspots – from abandoned warehouses to hilltop vistas.
‘I look at dance as a universal language. Pretty much everyone can speak it,’ says Millepied. ‘The problem is giving people the confidence to open their mouths.’ His main aim in creating the programme was to get people up, moving, and having fun. ‘By completing this programme from your own living room, you can literally dance like no one’s watching, because on one is.’
Dancers from LA Dance Project feature in Millepied’s project
Sensibly, Millepied didn’t attempt to shift the nation's ‘dance confidence’ culture alone. His raw creativity, passion and choreographic know-how is balanced by the sheer guile of business-bolstering, start-up enthusiast Clarisse Lacarrau. Hailing from leading French advertising agency BETC, Lacarrau moved to LA in 2014 to head up its new sibling, BETC LA. Its first project, LA Dance Workout follows in the footsteps of BETC’s successful European creative partnerships, like the Venice Biennial's French Pavilion with Xavier Vielhan.
Lacarrau has a history of spearheading creative collaborations between start-ups and branding heavyweights, having co-founded the BETC Start-Up Lab in 2012. But, she says, there’s a lot more work to be done. ‘Brands have been kicked out of the conversation,’ she says. ‘Artists and creators own it – they can mobilise people and create impact. Now is the right moment to bring both parties together.’
Here, big business and individual creativity dance an intimate duet, in what has turned out to be an extraordinary partnership. ‘The ad industry model is dying,’ says Lacarrau. ‘We need to challenge the way we do business, our output and practices, and the way we work with talent, to bring value back to our industry.’ So BETC LA and LA Dance Project will each own 50 per cent of the start-ups intellectual property, and have contributed equally to its creative conception. Lacarrau and her team have assisted with everything from IP contracts, to social-media strategy, to editorial content for an accompanying online dance magazine.
This is more than just a forward-thinking fitness programme. It it Lacarrau’s LA calling card for the type of bespoke ad model she believes in, and it hits the beat bang on. With LA Dance Workout’s virtual cocktail of well-being, dancerly prowess and LA chic, Millepied is right in thinking ‘we’ve got something special on our hands here’. Jane Fonda eat your heart out.