What to Watch: Misty Copeland and Ingrid Silva Push Pointe Shoe Brands Toward Inclusivity on "The Today Show"

Yesterday, pointe shoes made national news when "The Today Show" covered the shift that some brands have made towards creating shoes in shades of brown. The five-minute Sunday Spotlight segment, hosted by NBC's Willie Geist and Morgan Radford, includes interviews with Misty Copeland, Ingrid Silva, Virginia Johnson and Eliza Gaynor Minden.


Silva, a star dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, shows her pancaking process, and shares her wish that more pointe shoe brands would catch up so that she could skip this painstaking extra step. Radford explains Arthur Mitchell's decision in the 1970s to have his Dance Theatre of Harlem ballerinas dye their shoes to match their skin tone; Johnson, the company's current artistic director and a founding member, shares her memory of the impact of that first performance. "When the curtain went up you saw a range of people in all different skin tones," she says. "It was the most exquisite thing to see."

Copeland points out that buying shoes that come in only one color–"European pink"–says so much about ballet's historical lack of diversity, and sends an underlying message to young dancers. Radford highlights Gaynor Minden as the first company to debut shoes in shades of brown, thanks to its founder Eliza Gaynor Minden's steadfast commitment to inclusivity. More recently, Freed of London announced its collaboration with BalletBlack to create the first diverse skin tone pointe shoes in the U.K.

While this move towards increased inclusivity isn't news to most bunheads, it's always exciting to see issues of importance to the ballet community elevated to the national stage. Geist ends the segment with the hope that more brands catch on soon. Check it out now!

Latest Posts


Film still via SPAC Reimagined, Courtesy kw creative

What to Watch: NYCB Dancers Explore the Outdoors in This Site-Specific Film Series

For the past three years, New York City Ballet dancers Emily Kikta and Peter Walker have created a series of site-specific dance films promoting the company's annual summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Although this summer's installment looks different due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kikta and Walker continue the tradition into its fourth year with SPAC Reimagined.

With quarantine restrictions in place and the company's SPAC residency cancelled due to the onset of COVID-19, Kikta and Walker decided to expand the series and shift its focus to the effects of the pandemic on the arts industry. As Walker describes, they hope to use the series to provide "a small offering of what could have been" for audiences who had been looking forward to seeing this summer's performances. The first of the five videos was released today, July 14, in recognition of what would have been NYCB's opening night at SPAC.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Cory Weaver, Courtesy San Francisco Opera

Dancing Divas: How Performing in Operas Can Be a Career High Note

From the flamenco of Carmen to the sprites of Rusalka, dance plays a supporting role in countless operas—and opera can play a significant part in a ballet dancer's career. Pointe went behind the curtain with three dancers whose artistic paths have led them to the opera world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
James Barkley, Courtesy Dance for Change

Take Class From Celebrated Black Dancers and Raise Money for the NAACP Through Dance for Change

Since the nationwide fight against racial inequality took center stage in May, organizations across the dance world have been looking for meaningful ways to show their support, rather than fall back on empty social media signifiers. July 10-11, Diamante Ballet Dancewear is taking action with Dance for Change, a two-day event dedicated to fundraising for the NAACP, and amplifying the voices of Black professional dancers.

Organized by Diamante Ballet Dancewear's founder, Nashville Ballet 2 dancer Isichel Perez, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre teacher Elise Gillum, Dance for Change makes it easy to participate. Dancers need only to make a donation to the NAACP (in any amount) and email proof to diamante.ballet@gmail.com to be given online access to a full schedule of Zoom master classes taught by Black pros artists. Teachers include Ballet Memphis' George Sanders, Boston Ballet's Daniel Durrett, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Corey Bourbonniere, and more. "It's important that we amplify BIPOC voices during this time, and it's also important that we're conscious of where we're putting our dollars," says Bourbonniere. "Diamante is doing both with Dance for Change, and I'm honored to be in this talented group of melanated dancers."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks