Pointe shoes are shoes worn by dancers in ballet and contemporary dance to allow them to dance on the tips of their toes. These special shoes are extremely strong and durable, while creating a weighless illusion of the dancers, being that their entire weight is placed in the tip of the pointe shoe.
In the professional world, it is expected that all dancers wear pointe shoes within their numbers. The shoes are supposed to make the dancers seem light and as though they are flying,. They should blend seamlessly with the dancer, so it appears as an extension of her, not an attachment. But, until recently, pointe shoes have come in only light shades; the most popular of those being, “European Pink,” leaving dancers of darker complexions shoeless.
Gaynor Minden has been of the first companies that has manufactured shoes for dancers of darker complexions. Up until now, darker dancers have been painting or “pancaking” their pointe shoes with paint in an attempt to make it match their skin tones.
Being forced to do this, and with companies not stepping up to make the necessary changes, these dancers feel like they don’t belong. Dance is an art and a freeing form of expression for many people, so these dancers feeling like they don’t belong is unacceptable.
Even Misty Copeland, the first African-American woman to get a principal role in the American Ballet Theatre, struggled with not having shoes for her complexion, but with her dancing claim to fame and powerful influence, she had been a catalyst in the community. She is continuously pushing for more companies to make darker colored pointe shoes.