Arsenal and Citroën Unite through Ballet

Yes, it’s true, the mighty Arsenal and Citroën have combined to promote the new Citroën DS5 through a video shot with the English National Ballet. No doubt the players involved in the video have been subject to more than one or two dressing-room comments on their newly-found artistic skills, but ballet dancers also need to be fit, supple and train hard to perform.  Perhaps a ballet training regime might even reduce some injuries…

It’s an unusual combination, definitely, but the three icons of sport, culture and motoring have created a unique campaign, and the resulting video makes for compelling viewing, and not just for Arsenal fans.

Arsenal players, best known for their fancy footwork on the pitch rather than the stage, performed alongside dancers from the English National Ballet in a series of videos to promote the new DS5. It is the latest phase of an innovative ongoing campaign for the DS5 that has already won the Top Gear Family Car of the Year prize.

The video title is: ‘The Refined, Redefined’ – and Arsenal players certainly endeavour to embrace the concept by learning the graceful art of ballet in the promotional film, which clocks in at just over one-and-a-half minutes.

Arsenal, Citroën’s official automotive partner, sent team players Alex Song, Wojciech Szczesny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bacary Sagna to the magnificent and stately Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, where they met up with Jenna Lee, a choreographer and dancer for the English National Ballet, and other star performers.

The players learnt about the differences between warming up for a big match and warming up to take to the stage, trying a few steps and then performing with the dancers. The video concludes with the players bowing to the DS5, getting into the car, and driving off.

Jules Tilstone, Marketing Director at Citroën UK, explained the thinking behind putting the players together with ballerinas and DS5.

“With this project, we wanted to take their top-class footballers, renowned for their refined style of football, and put them into a new environment that would redefine their sporting talents.

“It was a fantastic experience working with the Arsenal players and English National Ballet’s dancers in this way – a unique opportunity to bring together two contrasting worlds with individuals who are all at the top of their game,” Tilstone said.

Szczesny was no novice to the world of dance, having done ballroom dancing when he was younger but he said the filming session was still a challenge.

“‘We only had a couple of hours on the day to complete the filming, and it was interesting to see how far we could come from being plié novices!” he noted.

Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoyed the rivalry between the players and found they were still competitive when it came to the world of dance. He thought he “coped alright” with the dance moves, considering he was a total beginner at the start of the shoot.

“Alex (Song) struggled a bit with the barre but given what he delivers on the pitch you can’t complain too much!” Oxlade-Chamberlain laughed. No jokes about shooting over the barre, please.

Song, however, had to agree with his team-mate’s light-hearted dig at his dancing skills.

“Some elements of the shoot really surprised me with their complexity, the dancers are such professionals they made everything look so easy and believe me – it wasn’t anywhere near easy!”

It was also a new and different experience for Sagna who was surprised to find himself spending a Thursday afternoon doing ballet and saluted the skill and professionalism of the English National Ballet dancers. However, he is pretty sure any future dance moves will not be seen on video.

“Thanks to Citroën for letting me tick that box of being a ballet dancer, it’s probably not something I’ll be repeating, I’m better at throwing some shapes in the dressing room!” he joked.

The first video is now online and can be viewed on the Citroën UK Facebook channel . In the later videos, you can see the players trying out some more contemporary dance moves as well as Szczesny showing off some hitherto unseen musical skills.

The Citroën/Arsenal cinemagraphs feature Robin van Persie, Laurent Koscielny and Mikel Arteta in some amazing  photographs with a difference – one piece of the photo is moving. Citroën was the first in the automotive sector to produce cinemagraphs, with a series of new DS5 pictures. With this new series, Arsenal has become the first top-flight football club to use the format.

Marc Raven, Communications Director at Citroën UK said, “Embracing innovative technology, Citroën pioneered cinemagraphs for the automotive industry and we’re delighted to be using the format to support our association with Arsenal Football Club. The players had a lot of fun in the production of these and I hope they’re as happy with the results as we are.”

Vinai Venkatesham, Head of Global Partnerships at Arsenal Football Club added, “This has been a great activity to kick off the newly extended partnership between Arsenal and Citroën. The cinemagraphs make fantastic visuals, are very eye-catching and we’re delighted to be the first club to get involved with the technology.”

Citroën has been Official Vehicle Supplier to Arsenal Football Club since 2008, providing the club with a full fleet of Citroën’s award-winning line-up. In 2011, Citroën and Arsenal confirmed a new three year extension to the partnership.

Award-winning writer, editor and photographer from England currently living in Canada. Several published books do date, and thousands of articles/photos have appeared in major publications around the world on a range of subjects from science to sport, music to news. Involved with football as a club board member and league president, referee and referee assessor and course instructor.