Pointe shoes have officially taken on new colors! What colors, you may ask? Ballet Bronze and Ballet Brown to be exact. And all we have to say is...“it’s about flipping time!”
"Ballet pink" has long been the color of ballet - flat ballet shoes, tights, tutus, pointe shoes. For years, dancers of color have been forced to "pancake" their shoes, painting the satin with foundation to match their individual skin tone. Not only is this ridiculous, there are numerous implications. For dancers whose skin tone is not pale, this part of their routine cost them extra money for materials, lots of time, and a big mess. But the times are (slowly) a-changin'! First, companies like Shades of Dance started to develop tights to match different skin tones. Then, Gaynor Minden began offering different colors of their shoes. And now, dancers of color have another pointe shoe option to match their gorgeous bods.
Freed of London is behind this big unveiling, first launching the product last month. Since then, dancers have taken to social media thanking Freed for taking the huge step forward in making ballet shoes more accessible to people of color using the hashtags #balletbronze and #balletblack. It’s a small step, but it means a lot when it comes to bridging the gap in this predominantly white dance form. It’s one less thing that dancers of color have to worry about during the pointe shoe process!
Now for the sad truth; it took 200 years of development of the ballet art form to get to this point. And let's be honest, we still have a long way to go. Companies like Ballet Black (featured in Freed's campaign) are still hoping for more inclusion, and would like to see more people of color in ballet companies (as would we!). Despite the fact that there are manufactured options now, performance tights are still often expected to be pink, which doesn't help the line of the dancers. Also, Freed now has two color options, but what if a dancer doesn't like Freed or Gaynor shoes? There should still be more options and more styles of shoes made available for people with various skin tones. But this is a step in the right direction, and progress is being made. Hopefully it’s not 200 years before the next change!