Ballet slippers for black and mixed-race ballerinas available for the first time in the UK

Freed of London has collaborated with Ballet Black to create the new colours

Ballet dancer Seong Woo Ryu and Mokrin Choi from South Korea performs in the Classical Seniors (18-21) division during the 9th Annual Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition at the Symphony Space in New York on March 19, 2019. The 9th annual competition features  dancers from around the world competing for monetary prizes, scholarships and company contracts. It runs from March 19/22 with awards March 23, 2019. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY
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Ballet slippers have traditionally only been made in a specific shade of pale pink – a nude that was supposed to blend seamlessly with a ballerina’s skin, elongating her leg. But considering that specific shade of pale pink only caters to a small minority of the population, it’s easy to see why that's become a problem.

But mixed-race and black ballerinas in the UK will finally be able to find ballet slippers in shades designed for them thanks to dance shoe design and manufacturing company Freed of London, which has collaborated with dance company Ballet Black.

The release of the new colours has been a year in the making, according to Ballet Black, saying it was a “historic moment in British ballet history.”

The new slippers come in bronze and brown and will put an end to “pancaking” – the process previously used by black ballerinas which saw them cover their pointe shoe in foundation, often leading to damage.

Pointe shoes for black dancers have been sold in the US for around 18 months, but this is the first time UK dancers have been able to buy them.

In the UAE, pointe shoes are still only available in the traditional pink and nude, although the Freed of London does ship internationally.

The change has been welcomed by those in the dance world, with The Royal Ballet calling it “great news”.


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