Culture 

Black Dancers Call for Color-Inclusive Ballet Shoes and Clothing

A petition for Capezio to produce brown dancewear boasts over 150,000 signatures.

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Black Dancers Call for Color-Inclusive Ballet Shoes and Clothing

A petition for Capezio to produce brown dancewear boasts over 150,000 signatures.

As industries and sectors across the board begin to address deeply embedded racial inequality, dancers of color are speaking out about their struggle to find color-inclusive dance clothing including pointe shoes and leggings. Dancer and Twitter user @BriianaBell shared a longstanding ritual among Black ballerinas, previously reported on by The New York Times, in which they cake foundation on light-colored ballet slippers (standard pointe shoes are made of pale peach fabric) to match darker skin tones.

Another Twitter user pointed out the fact that pink ballet tights and shoes were originally introduced to elongate dancers’ leg lines by matching the flesh tone of White dancers, often considered the norm within the community. Major manufacturers of ballet clothing continue to exclude brown skin tones from their offerings, thereby forcing Black dancers to cover out-of-pocket expenses for foundation and dye used to alter their shoes, leggings and more.

Responding to the lack of diversity in ballet, a petition urging dancewear manufacturer Capezio to provide color-inclusive options has surfaced. Its description quotes Virginia Johnson, artistic director of the Dance Theater of Harlem: “This isn’t about shoes, this is about who belongs in ballet and who doesn’t,” the former principal dancer told the Times in 2018. Just days ago, a similar petition directed at the brand Bloch succeeded in pushing the brand to expand its color options.

Head to the Change.org website to sign the petition for Capezio to offer color-inclusive products.

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