Previously ballet shoes were only available in variations of pale pink, cream or nude and dancers “of colour” painted their pointe shoes to match their skin tone by applying cosmetics such as foundation or powder to the shoes.
The dance shoe design and manufacturing company Freed of London has now begun selling pointe shoes in bronze and brown in partnership with the dance company Ballet Black.
According to the Ballet Black website the release of the new colours comes after “over a year in development”.
Ballet Black founder and artistic director Cassa Pancho called the release of the shoes a “historic moment in British ballet history”.
Ballet shoes created for women of colour have been available in the US for more than a year, but this is a first for the UK where they are now handmade.
Ballet Black senior dancer Cira Robinson, who has been with the company for 11 years, told the BBC that she never thought she’d find a shoe that she could just put on and go.
French dancer Marie Astrid Mence also commented on the rarity of finding ballet shoes in a colour that matches her skin tone.
“Finding your skin colour in a ballet shop, it’s something very special,” she said. “You have the feeling you are part of the industry of dance and you have the feeling that nothing is impossible.”
The change has been met with support from other dance companies as well. A spokesperson for The Royal Ballet told The Independent: “This is great news. We welcome this development from Freed and the latest addition to the range.”
Ballet Black was founded in 2001 as a ballet company for international dancers of black and Asian descent.
Source: Capricorn Review