“Pancaking” or using paint, foundation, or dye to change the color of pointe shoes and ballet socks is a common practice for ballet dancers, especially dancers belonging to BIPOC communities, trying to match their shoes to their natural skin tone to achieve clean lines. Why? The “nude” tone of these shoes, tights, and even ribbon known as “European Pink” doesn’t reflect the diversity of the dance world, and can make dancers of color feel excluded when they have to do more work to get the seamless look required in ballet.
Many members of the dance community have been pushing major dancewear brands to expand their lines to include shades that represent that diversity by providing more shades, especially darker shades, for years. In 2016 and 2018 respectively, Gaynor Minden and Freed added additional shades to their lines, but the vast majority hadn’t. Now, as conversations about race are becoming louder across the world, major brands like Bloch and Capezio have released statements about new, more inclusive lines of dancewear.
“…we are fully committed to following through with these plans and confirm we will be introducing darker shades into our Pointe shoes and Blochsox range in Fall this year, with further product announcements to follow,” Bloch said in a statement. They were followed by five other major dancewear brands that shared their own plans for addressing the lack of diversity in their product lines.
Russian Pointe took to Instagram to share that they “are thrilled to announce that the RP Palette will not only offer color matched tights, ballet slippers, ribbon and elastic, but also POINTE SHOES!” Capezio also shared on Instagram their plans for a Fall 2020 launch of a more inclusive dancewear line. They were joined by Grishko which stated on Instagram that they will be offering “pointe shoes and ballet slippers in various skin tones” and Suffolk which shared a statement that acknowledged having bronze shoes as a special order product is not enough. Nikolay, shared on Instagram that they will be adding “Latte” and “Espresso” colors to their line which includes “Ballet Pink” and “Tan” currently. Repetto has remained silent on the issue.
While many companies blamed the current COVID-19 pandemic for slowing down production and preventing them from releasing these shoes sooner, there have been petitions encouraging many of these companies to have more inclusive shoe lines for years. It seems the six companies that released statements about expanding their dancewear offerings are listening! Hopefully, we will see more dancers on stage in shoes and tights that represent them soon.