New brown ballet shoes have been made for non-white ballerinas.
For the first time in the UK, shoes have been made to better match the skin colour of black and mixed dancers.
Available in bronze and brown instead of the traditional pink, the new pointe shoes are made by Britain’s oldest manufacturer Freed of London.
Finding your skin colour in a ballet shop it's something very special. You have the feeling you are part of the industry of dance and you have the feeling that nothing is impossible because it's accessible and because your skin colour is there and you don't have, of course we have to fight to prove that I'm more talent
A plausible step towards recognition in the rather conservative world of classical dance.
Ballet Black senior artist, Marie Astrid Mence, says she feels special finding her skin colour in a dance store.
“Finding your skin colour in a ballet shop it’s something very special. You have the feeling you are part of the industry of dance and you have the feeling that nothing is impossible because it’s accessible and because your skin colour is there and you don’t have, of course we have to fight to prove that I’m more talented than these dancers, but at the end of the day if you see your colour somewhere you’re already inspired and it’s not a big deal anymore. It’s, it’s just there in your eyes and it’s not a dream, it’s present, it’s now.”
To create the shoes, the ballet gear makers worked with dance company Ballet Black, whose dancers are all of black and Asian descent.
Previously, dancers would have to use foundation makeup to darken the standard-issue pink shoes.
((11. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTIST SENIOR’BALLET BLACK’, CIRA ROBINSON
“Even though that’s how I grew up you know, not knocking tradition and everything like that, but times are changing and we need to see people who look like us and in doing that we need brown tights, brown shoes.”
Black dancers are getting their own stage in ballet as they become more important in the ballet corp.
In 2015, African-American dancer, Misty Copeland, made history when she was crowned star dancer at the American Ballet Theater in New York, a first in 80 years.