Freedom to Move: Levi’s Ballet

A place of freedom is the best place to have the most creativity.”

– Matt McGorry

An advertisement peddling jean trousers seems an unlikely space in which to find art that touches the sensibilities. However, Levi Strauss & Co. furnishes such a spot by weaving the motif of freedom throughout a commercial featuring members of the Korea National Ballet.

The theme starts with the literal fabric: stretchy denim that contours the dancers’ glides, leaps, and turns. These form-fitting jeans bend and expand to provide effortless and unrestrained movement.

The theme continues with the soundtrack selection, an orchestral composition that engages listeners in a shared experience. The lack of vocals lends a universality to the musical journey, soaring above the confines of human language and indecipherable lyrics.

Changes in scenery also convey freedom in mobility. Within a running time of fewer than four minutes, the video transports us from a light-rail platform to an alleyway, an urban staircase, a rooftop, a vehicular bridge, and a bustling boulevard. The fact that these settings all occur outdoors, with no walls or ceilings to imprison us, adds to the air of liberation.

The thematic culmination comes with the absence of urbanites. Despite using the heavily populated megalopolis of Seoul as a backdrop, the nearly deserted mise–en–scènes telegraph emancipation from overcrowded city living. Even in the busiest locale, a thoroughfare teeming with nighttime traffic, a long and empty median affords our dancers the autonomy to sail and sway with abandon.

At the video’s end, the Levi’s logo gently reminds us that we witnessed a call for our hard-earned money. However, in the presence of such grace and harmony, viewers will be forgiven for opening their hearts instead of their wallets.

Performed by Korea National Ballet

Music by Rafael May

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