Brown pointe shoes make a difference

November 21, 2018

This last October made a big impact in the world of ballet dancing due to companies changing the game by producing brown pointe shoes. This may seem like a very small thing, but it means a lot to the dancers of color.

Pictured: Paunika Jones, Ashley Murphy, and Cira Robinson

Many dancers of color have had to go through the process of dying their shoes to match their skin tone. One of these dancers is Cira Robinson. Cira first dyed her shoes back in 2001. She was 15 years old and the company she was a dancing at wanted her to have brown pointe shoes. However, there was an issue; Cira couldn’t find pointe shoes that were not pink. Therefore, she had to dye her shoes by hand to match her skin tone.

The first time Cira made her pink pointe shoes to match her skin tone, she used spray paint but that made the shoes crunchy and just overall gross. She then switched over to use makeup, specifically foundation that matched her skin tone. Robinson would go and find the cheapest foundation, because of how many bottles she went through a week. She would go through about 5 tubes of foundation a week because she would have to sponge it onto about 12-15 pairs of shoes. 

This process took about 45 minutes to an hour because Robinson wanted to cover every inch of the ribbon and crevice of the shoe.

This last October a company that supplies shoes and other dance supplies, Freed of London, created two new pointe shoes. One in the color bronze and the other in the color brown. Freed of London was not the first company to create brown pointe shoes; however, due to the fact of this company being such a large supplier in the dance world, made a big impact.

This may seem like a very small step forward, but this shows how rare it is to see African American, especially female, professional ballet dancers. Ballet is also a very traditional style of dance, therefore the idea of change in the smallest things, like the color of shoes and tights, is alarming. Pointe shoes were

originally created in a pale white color to appear almost ghostly. They were also created in a pale color so the shoes would blend in with the dancer’s leg, which would elongate the legs of the dancer. The shoes a dancer wears becomes a piece of them as a person.

This step forward in the ballet world is not just about the shoes, it’s about who does and does not belong in the world of ballet. The world of ballet has a lot to learn about the changes that are coming with time, but slowly they will be able to accept the changes with open arms.



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