Russian Pointe is working on a new line of pointe shoes in diverse shades called RP Palette.

Courtesy Russian Pointe

6 Major Dancewear Brands Announce Plans to Release Pointe Shoes in Diverse Shades

Updated on June 12, 2020

Last year, in a segment on "The Today Show" on diverse shades of pointe shoes, Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson reflected on the groundbreaking 1970's-era performance, when DTH founder Arthur Mitchell had the company dance in dyed shoes for the first time. "When the curtain went up you saw a range of people in all different skin tones," she said. "It was the most exquisite thing to see." Yet it wasn't until 2017 that Gaynor Minden made waves as the first pointe shoe brand to offer shoes in a diverse range of shades, saving Black and Brown dancers massive amounts of time and energy spent pancaking their shoes by hand. Freed followed suit in 2018, in a collaboration with London-based Ballet Black. So Danca also offers its Toshie and Aurora models in Mocha, a shade of brown satin.


So it should come as no surprise that in the midst of nationwide protests demanding racial justice, the ballet community has turned to social media to demand that other major pointe shoe makers, including Bloch, Capezio, Repetto and Suffolk, start to make shoes in darker shades. On Tuesday Bloch released a statement online sharing the company's plans to release a line including more inclusive pointe shoe shades this fall. "We have been intently listening, reflecting on what we are doing and what we can do better and acknowledge we have not been moving fast enough," the statement says. "Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 product development was severely slowed down however 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."

The next day, two more brands jumped on board. Russian Pointe announced that it too would release a new line in a diverse range of shades, called RP Palette Pointe Shoes. "We are thrilled to announce that the RP Palette will not only offer color matched tights, ballet slippers, ribbon and elastic, but also POINTE SHOES!," Russian Pointe posted on Instagram. Capezio will also expand its offerings with darker shades available in two of its most popular stock pointe shoe styles come fall. "We support all dancers' dreams to express themselves through the beautiful art of dance," wrote Capezio CEO Michael Terlizzi, who urged customers to continue to share their thoughts and comments via email at wecare@capezio.com.

Yesterday, Nikolay added its voice to the mix, sharing on Instagram that it had launched two new colors, called Latte and Espresso, in February, but its plans were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. "You can now place your orders for these awesome new colors!," Nikolay wrote. "We are producing them on request in any model, shank and size." The collection also includes a matte canvas tan option.

And earlier today, Grishko and Suffolk both announced on Instagram that they would be offering pointe shoes in various skin tones soon. "We will begin production as soon as the raw materials we have ordered are available," wrote Mark and Keri Suffolk, the company's founders. "Please remember most of our suppliers are not yet out of lockdown from Covid-19."

These announcements come after a two-year-old Change.org petition went viral over the weekend, garnering 169,804 signatures before closing. A similar petition directed at Capezio has 289,930 supporters just two days after its creation, and is steadily gaining more. A third petition, with just over 7,000 signatures so far, takes the plea a step forward, urging all pointe shoe companies to offer options for dancers of color, calling out in particular Capezio, Repetto and Suffolk. "If you don't fit the one shade of shoe color, you automatically feel like you don't belong," wrote Megan Watson, the creator of the Capezio petition. "Every person deserves to feel included in something they love."

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After 25 Years, Victoria Morgan to Step Down as Cincinnati Ballet's Artistic Director

Last month, Victoria Morgan announced that she will step down as Cincinnati Ballet's artistic director at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. The organization's board of trustees has formed a committee to conduct a national search for her replacement.

Prior to coming to Cincinnati Ballet in 1997, the Salt Lake City native was a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West, as well as resident choreographer for the San Francisco Opera. She graduated magna cum laude from University of Utah, where she also earned her MFA, and has judged several international ballet competitions.

Entering her 25th and final season as director, Morgan has accomplished a lot at Cincinnati Ballet, not the least erasing the $800,000 in company debt she inherited at the outset of her tenure. To right the organization's financial ship she had to make tough choices early on—the first task the company's executive committee gave her was to release a third of the company's dancers. In her continuing effort to overhaul how the organization did business, in 2008 she became both the artistic director and CEO and set about building the company's now $14.5 million endowment. For the 2016–17 season, with the arrival of new company president and CEO Scott Altman, Morgan returned to being full-time artistic director and helped lead the realization of the organization's new $31 million home, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance.

A champion of female choreographers, Morgan has also choreographed numerous ballets for the company, including world premieres of King Arthur's Camelot and The Nutcracker. She has also helped orchestrate several company collaborations, including 2013's Frampton and Cincinnati Ballet Live and joint productions with BalletMet.

Pointe caught up with Morgan to talk about her recent announcement.

Victoria Morgan is shown from the side standing on stage right, turning to smile at a line of costumed dancers to her left during bows. She wears a patterned green dress with chunky green high heels and holds a red rose in her hand.

Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Why leave Cincinnati Ballet now?

It's been an amazing run and I have seen it all. I am not sure where I would go from here. I also feel there is a required stimulus and infusion of new ideas and energy that always needs to be a part of a growing, evolving and exciting arts organization.

What made you happiest at Cincinnati Ballet?

The people, from the devotion of patrons and donors to learning from and feeling the pride in work from the staff. It has also been so satisfying for me to choreograph on and watch so many dancers evolve in their dance careers and lives.

Were there things you wanted to do for the company that you weren't able to?

There were other collaborations I wanted us to explore and choreographers I wanted us to work with. It takes quite an investment to make those happen.

Your legacy includes actively creating opportunities for female choreographers. What motivated that?

I started realizing, in a profound way, the gender inequities in our art form. Because I was in a leadership position, I thought I could do something about this and try to get to a 50-50 balance of male and female choreographers. It took a little time to find women to step forward, but it happened. Now there are many more prominent female choreographers, including our resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald, and I am proud of that.

If you could handpick your successor, what qualities would you look for?

Somebody creative, charged up, and who can be visionary. Someone who has had a high-level experience in our art form. A leader who is demanding but also kind and supportive, and who opens doors to find new ideas while still embracing Cincinnati Ballet's philosophies.

What do you feel will be one of the biggest challenges for the new artistic director?

The important cause of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility). Whoever steps into that position has to have awareness of the culture of today's conversation.

Do you plan to keep choreographing?

I am not being proactive about it, but if the opportunity presents itself, it would be fun.

What's next?

I feel my next calling is bringing movement to the biggest segment of our population, baby boomers. I want to be part of an initiative that makes moving and wellness enjoyable and enlivens people.

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