The multiyear deal sees Puma providing rehearsal athletic attire to all ranks of the company. It will use the opportunity to test new products’ functionality and performance. New York City Ballet dancers will be featured in Puma print and digital campaigns. The Kering-owned firm will also provide financial support to the company, the terms of which it declined to specify.
Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing, said “this partnership brings Puma a great set of ambassadors — people who are truly top athletes as well as top creative minds. You have got world-class performers who use their bodies more extensively and effectively than anyone in the world, their training regime is ridiculous.”
New York City Ballet soloist Savannah Lowery, and corps de ballet members Olivia Boisson, Meagan Mann, Unity Phelan and Mimi Staker are featured in the first round of Puma advertising, which will appear in print and digital form. The ads see the dancers in NYCB’s Lincoln Center rehearsal space, dressed in an amalgamation of Puma athletic clothes and offstage attire, like practice tutus and leg warmers.
The ads’ cast is decidedly young, as Puma intentionally decided to work with up-and-coming dancers rather than company stalwarts. That enterprising mood is also presently felt in the company’s own stage casting — where dancers of infantile rank are being given unprecedented chances at principal roles.
“Overall our approach in working with NYCB is to uplift younger dancers, younger creators and choreographers and our goal is to help support the artists of tomorrow, really to help train the company of tomorrow. We are very interested in who has new fresh ideas,” Petrick said.
In providing athletic clothing to dancers — including leggings, warm-ups and sneakers — Puma is giving company members an opportunity to break with rehearsal clothing tradition. While Petrick specified that Puma has no plans to create a modernized pointe shoe — it’s “DryCell” fabrics are a ways more technical than the spandex leotards and nylon tights that most dancers are accustomed to wearing.
Staker, who joined the company as an apprentice in 2013, said of her initial experience rehearsing in Puma gear: “The leggings are super flexible and movable, I’ve been wearing them with my leotard. It’s pretty much like wearing tights but a little thicker. We are athletes, too, and everything they make is for athletes so it makes sense.”
The 20-year-old acknowledged ballet’s current cultural resonance, with dancers finding immense fame on social media — leading to book deals, documentaries and leotard lines. “I think a lot of people thought ballet was a dying art form but right now it’s growing, there is a rebirth. I think ballet in general is trying to reach a younger audience in the way we portray ourselves and what we put onstage — social media is helping that. People can see what we do offstage — it gives behind-the-scenes glimpses. I think people see us now more as athletes; we are much more of a popular topic.”
Petrick concurred with Staker’s comments, noting that ballet is ripe for a Puma ambassadorship, due to its combination of physical expression and exertion.
“It fits in with that trend of health and wellness. The way that they work their bodies and exercise control, and respect their bodies as their instrument — that’s a very worthy and noble pursuit and also ties into that idea of creativity and self-expression. Those are the dominant ideas of our time — a dancer exemplifies both of those things,” he said.
Petrick said cobranded NYCB Puma merchandise is being discussed but has yet to be confirmed.