Pointe shoes developed for BAME ballet dancers

In a massive step for diversity, ballet shoes for black and Asian dancers have been released in the UK for the first time. The shoes used to only be available in the limited colours pink and cream, but can now be found in brown and bronze shades thanks to Freed of London who have collaborated with the ballet school Ballet Black; the new shoes have been featured all over their Instagram feed.

Previously, many women had to hand paint their ballet shoes in order to get them to match their skin tone. This practice was called ‘pancaking’ but made the shoes soften quickly, meaning the dancers had to buy shoes more frequently. Famous ballet dancer Cira Robinson has said that she didn’t think she would be able to find a shoe that would fit her skin colour. With the help of Freed of London, women from all ethnic backgrounds are able to find a pointe shoe to better match their skin tone.

The company have stated that ‘Freed of London are committed to developing shoes to meet the needs of ALL dancers’ and have been praised for using their platform to initiate change. This is a massive step towards diversity and will hopefully lead to the dance industry becoming more inclusive and welcoming to those from BAME backgrounds. Shoes like these have existed in the United States for over a year, but this is the first time that handmade pointe shoes have been made available in the UK. This is a very historic moment in British ballet history.

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Jess Barrett

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May 2022
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