For years, ballet has been a type of performance dance, encouraging advanced techniques and uniformity among it’s dancers. But as the dance has encouraged high standards within it’s community, many have felt left out. For nearly 200 years, pointe shoes have only been offered in shades of pink and white for European dancers.
That is until a collaboration between a British dance company, Ballet Black, and a shoe manufacturer, Freed of London. The two are collaborating for the first time in order to bring footwear in shades of brown to dancers of color. The new shoes will hopefully eliminate the hassle of “pancaking.” Pancaking is a messy process, which requires dancers to paint their shoes, sometimes using makeup, to achieve the darker hues. It’s a long process, but for years, has been the only option.
Pointe shoes were created around the 1800’s. They come equip with a built-in block to help dancers stand on their tiptoes. They’re usually paired with tights of the same color, to enforce seamless lines from the top of the leg to the tip of the toe. And because the tights come in limited colors as well, it’s reinforced the idea that ballet promotes lack of diversity.
“This moment makes me feel extremely proud,” Cira Robinson, a dancer, said. “It’s just one less job that we have to do as far as our shoes.”
The new shoes gives hope that ballet is one step closer to change.