Some dark-toned plasters, tights, a few foundations: the provisions the fashion world makes for people of color still have a long way to go.

Happily, it looks like the ballet world is taking a step in the right direction, with ballerino Eric Underwood helping create what he’s claiming is the world’s first black flesh tone ballet shoe.

Nine months ago, Underwood put out a plea on Instagram asking three companies to produce more than one flesh tone for ballet shoes. (Ballet shoes are traditionally pink in order to blend into the dancer’s skin and give the illusion that they’re dancing barefoot.) The post consisted of a video of Underwood dusting makeup onto his own originally pale pink shoes to match his darker skin.


Bloch, one of the companies tagged in the post, then responded, and over the past few months has been working with Underwood to produce a shoe in a darker color, which has been coined “Eric Tan.”

Before, there was usually no great option for nonwhite ballet dancers who want their shoes to blend into their feet: “I have to ‘pancake’ my shoes with makeup before I can go on stage,” explains the 31-year-old Underwood. “It’s a messy process that can take as long as half an hour at a time, and I need to repeat it regularly because the color rubs off during performances.”

Given the increasingly diverse presence in ballet, it’s about time black ballet dancers are being given the consideration they deserve.

 

From ELLE UK