Design Army’s campaign for Hong Kong Ballet is three minutes of tutu-twirling mayhem

A reimagining of the classic art of ballet, this short takes you on a whirlwind of dance-infused adventures with visits from green tutu-wearing aliens.

20 June 2024

To celebrate its 45th anniversary, and the opening of its Ballet Academy, Hong Kong Ballet has created a campaign with Design Army to celebrate “the universal language of dance”. ‘Universal’ really is meant quite literally here, with the star of the short being an extraterrestrial dance prodigy, that lands into the Wes Anderson-style ‘tutu academy’ – a fictional school where all students “express themselves through ballet, and bizarro hair”, says Pum Lefebure, chief creative officer and co-founder of Design Army.

Directed by Dean Alexander, the film shows the alien being gifted a magical tutu that allows him to join the pirouetting crew and learn the art of dance on earth. After a flash of tutu twirling, choreographed by Septime Webre, the alien must (sadly) return to space, carrying with him the new tutu. Design Army’s protagonist then “proudly presents tutus to his commanders where they dance in celebration of the newfound connection with Earth”.

Pum says the campaign was made to make ballet feel accessible to everyone. With colours referencing the hues in Degas’ classical ballerina paintings and Chinese symbolism, warm red tones contrast with explosions of green to create a “crazy mix of classic-meets-current”. The art direction, costume, set design and props all “blur impressionist, classic, heritage, future and pop eras,” says Design Army. “We even handmade the spaceship!”

From the tutu academy logo to spinning shots action that mimic tutu twirls, Design Army have thought of every detail in a very bizarre way. Hong Kong Ballet’s artistic director Septime Webre shares: “I love that Tutu Academy is fresh and entirely unexpected – it bristles with the joy of communicating through dance, with a quirkiness that seems just right. And it’s pretty darn stylish too.” For us, an especially stylish moment was the spaceship, which wears a tutu for take-off.

GalleryDesign Army: Hong Kong Ballet (Copyright © Design Army, 2024)

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Design Army: Hong Kong Ballet (Copyright © Design Army, 2024)

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About the Author

Ellis Tree

Ellis Tree (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a junior writer in April 2024 after graduating from Kingston School of Art with a degree in Graphic Design. Across her research, writing and visual work she has a particular interest in printmaking, self-publishing and expanded approaches to photography.

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