The unseen side of the Cannes International Advertising Festival

Simon Mainwaring / Advertising / 9 years ago


It’s 11 p.m. on Friday night, a full day before the Cannes Advertising Festival kicks off. Yet artists are already at work in the shadows of the Palais de Festival. Each night these street dancers practice their moves, teach the younger kids the basics, and work their particular brand of creativity in and around the conference center.

It was great to watch them not just because of what they could do with their bodies – I swear I would be hospitalized on my first attempt – ┬ábut because of why they were doing it. Yes, they had a small audience with the odd camera pointed at them (that would be me), but they took no notice. Instead they took their craft as seriously as any copywriter or art director and rehearsed every move over and over until they got it right.

There is no prize or high paid career system waiting for these dancers. Only the admiration of peers expressed by a small, approving nod. To me it was a sobering reminder to do what you love because you simply love doing it. It’s a side of the Cannes Festival I hadn’t seen before, but their hard work, joy in discovery and freedom of expression, that’s something every creative person would recognize.

Hope you enjoy their work and fire away with any thoughts as to why you do what you do.


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  1. A team of break dancers usually puts on a show at the Cannes Film Fest as well. Not sure if they are local, though.

  2. Good to know. Had never seen them before. Thanks, Michael.

  3. The b-boy community in France is among the strongest in the world. Doesn't surprise me that you ran into this crew practicing. Had a similar run-in with a dope b-boy crew in Lyon once. It's their lifestyle–their family–and they do it purely for the love of it, which is what we should all be doing in our lives. Have spent a lot of time in the b-boy community and they are among the most passionate, dedicated people I've ever known. Glad you got to experience it.

  4. Thanks. They are very cool in their commitment to their dance style. It was great to watch them. Simon