Music by VICE

Teen Ballerinas Improv All Over NYC in Color War's Video for "Shapeshifting"

Remember when you were 14 and fearless?

by Kim Taylor Bennett
Nov 11 2014, 9:00pm

Here at Noisey we spend a lot of time watching music videos. We are music video connoisseurs and choosy motherfuckers so it takes a lot to make us go, "Damn!" Color War's video for "Shapeshifting" not only made us go "Damn!" it also made us go:

"WTF! Are bodies supposed to bend that way?"

"Ugh. We wish we were this cool at 14."

"Dancing with Elmo in Times Square looks pretty sweet."

We last wrote about Brooklyn duo Color War in late 2013 when they released their airy synth-pop tune "SOS," but this track takes a slightly different tact: they sound like Warpaint if they spent and entire year listening to Italo disco on downers. It's dope.

But back to the video. It features three teenage ballerinas, who had relocated to NYC from who knows where, to attend a ballet summer school. The trio dance all over the city—in playgrounds, down crosswalks, in parks; they bend their bodies to scaffolding and lamp posts and freestyle with the exuberance and unselfconsciousness that comes with being young and excited and awesome at your chosen skill.

We're so into this video that we tracked down Brooklyn-based director and documentary filmmaker, Crystal Moselle, for a mini-Behind the Lens. We needed to find out more.

Noisey: What were the reactions from people in the street when you were filming this? In some of the shots—like that insane one where one of them is doing the splits up a traffic pole—no one appears to be batting an eyelid.
Crystal Moselle: Most times it all happened so fast and so spontaneously that people had to look twice to see what was happening. Once we got to Times Square they got a ton of attention and people couldn't stop taking photos. I was trying to curb it but it was impossible.

How did you come up with this idea? Had you been waiting for a song to implement this video? Or was there something about this song that made you think of three girls dancing around the city streets in slo-mo?
Well Cassiel (the girl with bright blue eyes and Timbaland boots) and I had met in South Africa on a commercial I was directing about 2 years ago. She was only 12! We totally bonded on set and kept in touch. She came to New York this summer to do a ballet program and we decided that we had to do a project together. She's such a brilliant dancer but she also has such a fun charismatic personality so I wanted to fuse the two of those traits. We wanted to show this transformation between those two. It was so fun working with these girls. They were so fearless. We just ran around and freestyled along the way.

How much does Cassiel look like Topanga from Boy Meets World!?
You're not the first to say that... she also looks Adriana Lima!

In the playground scene, what song were they miming to?
A tween song? I can't remember, but those girls can do no wrong those girls. Every moment is gold.

How did you hook up with Color War?
Well Julie Brooke Williams, my stylist on the video, was also in South Africa and her and I had made the plan to do something with Cassiel. I mentioned that I wanted to work with a band and she made the connect. I fell in love with their music—it was so perfect—and it all went beautifully! The band are so talented and hilarious… hopefully they're my new best friends.

It Could Only Be This Way by Color War is out now on Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Kim Taylor Bennett is not very flexible. She's on Twitter.