Nike’s new ad features transgender dancers voguing, proving there’s still a whole lot of goodness in the world
Just in time for the end of Pride Month, Nike’s new ad features a dance style predominantly performed by queer and transgender people of color. It’s called voguing, and while Madonna appropriated the dance moves for her 1990 hit, “Vogue,” and Channing Tatum later wowed us with his vogue skills, it’s a dance movement worth reading up on and featuring in ads like Nike did. Yep, they just DID it.
Nike’s ad focuses on the queen of voguing, nay, the self-proclaimed Wonder Woman of Vogue, Leiomy Maldonado. Maldonado is known in the mainstream for being the first transgender woman on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew in 2009 with Vogue Evolution. She also, you know, casually created a dance move that Beyoncé can’t get enough of. See: the Leiomy Lolly hair flip.
Yes, that hair flip.
Nike beautifully portrays Maldonado and other people of color voguing in its ad, which is narrated by Precious Angel Ramirez, aka Princess Mami Precious, who speaks directly to Maldonado, opening with “Hey, Lei.” Meanwhile, Leiomy, or Lei, is voguing down a dark, empty street.
Next in the commercial, we see Maldonado voguing in a dance studio, both alone and with other dancers. We also see clips of her running on the streets of a city and performing at a ball, where voguing is often showcased. Meanwhile, Precious Angel Ramirez asks, “What did you do to make a mark on this world? What mountains did you climb?” Continuing,
"Which angels gave you their wings? Which skies have you flown? When you reached the heavens, who was there to catch when you fell? And did they tell you that you saved them too, like you saved me? That they are mending their wings and holding them up to the sun, just to step back and watch you fly"
When Ramirez says “fell,” Maldonado does her signature drop that looks like she’s violently falling to the ground. We then see other dancers voguing in the street and dancing with Leiomy as Ramirez says,
"And did they tell you that you saved them too, like you saved me? That they are mending their wings and holding them up to the sun, just to step back and watch you fly So go 'head Lei. Fly. "
It’s a deeply moving video (no pun intended), and it highlights the beauty and power of self-acceptance and queer communities. Maldonado’s athletic strength is featured first and foremost, but it’s her personal story that brings her to life onscreen.
On her website, her early biography’s setting is described as “New York City’s underground ‘Ballroom Scene,’ an extravagant community created by impoverished Black and Latino LGBT youth to safely express themselves and revel in the allure of fabulous pageants and dance battles designed to mirror the wealthy lifestyles they so often dreamed of living.”
That Nike featured Maldonado in its #BeTrue campaign offers hope for the acceptance of queer and non-binary people whose strength — both athletic and emotional — deserves acknowledgement.
Watch the video that’s sure to send a shiver down your spine:
This type of representation is the stuff that hope is made of.