I’ve been completely obsessed with FKA twigs’ Nike ad campaign since it came out in January (you can read a story I wrote about it for TheCelebrityCafe.com here). It’s truly one of the most gorgeous commercials, concept videos, visual pieces of art I have seen in a long time and I was so excited that dance and dancers were being placed at the forefront of an advertisement for activewear since, well, we make use of activewear just as frequently as anyone. It also demonstrates the beauty and athleticism of dance and as someone who had to listen to many claims that dance WASN’T athletic, this was a breath of fresh air.
But beyond that, the ad also inspired me to learn more about FKA twigs (and in case you’re wondering why I’m not capitalizing twigs…she stylizes it that way). I, to be honest, didn’t know very much about her before the Nike campaign (although I’m pretty sure I danced to one of her songs for a concert in college). But what I’ve found out is that she is a pretty amazing singer and she incorporates dance into quite a bit of her performances. However, the difference between twigs’ dancing and the more choreographed dancing of other pop stars (a la Britney, Janet and Rihanna), is that FKA twigs’ dancing looks like it is more governed by not just classical and contemporary technique as opposed to jazz funk or hip-hop, it also possesses an abandon that most commercial, pop-music driven dance doesn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I adore synchronicity and musically governed ensemble pieces, but seeing someone let go and dance freely while still in the context of performance, especially pop music performance was eye-opening.
The video, “It’s Good to Love,” taken from twigs’ short film Soundtrack 7 shows an artist dancing to express what is inside them, as opposed to showing the audience what they want to see. It is about her, her power, her physicality, her emotion and I feel that if more of this were incorporated into popular music, the world of commercial dance would broaden in a beautiful and fascinating way. Pitchfork described this difference in twigs’ and even other artists like Lorde’s performances in a far more eloquent way than I ever could.
[T]hey don’t do a big show of trying to beguile us, nor do they honor our gaze. How their movement is at once so unpredictable and confident shows how fully they claim themselves and their bodies. It works against the idea that young women are malleable and unrealized. They’re renouncing the paradigm of “performance” that has long been sold to female artists—as well as to their audiences. The powerful assertion of a stark female stage presence like theirs is that women can just be themselves on stage, and that is enough.
I posted the Nike video to my Instagram in honor of International Women’s Day and commented that the dancing in the video shows the sensual, collaborative power of women. Really, what I think I was getting at was that the Nike ad and FKA twigs’ movement demonstrates dancing as a woman, embodying the physicality, movement and emotive-ness of the feminine physique and mentality. Too meta…yeah, maybe.
So yeah, I started out talking about FKA twigs and Nike, and ended with a commentary on commercial dance, femininity and intent. Can you tell why she’s my hero? I feel that dance, above all should make viewers think and FKA twigs has certainly made me do that. I’m so excited to see more.