In our latest installment of “Inspiration Corner”, I want to highlight this incredible group of dancers from the UK — Ballet Black. Founded by Artistic Director Cassa Pancho in 2001, this professional ballet company demonstrates how culturally diverse ballet is, and they strive to inspire and encourage inclusion of black and Asian dancers in mainstream ballet companies. Ballet Black also hosts a ‘junior school’ for students age 3 to 18, educating and inspiring the next generation of dancers.
Ballet Black Partnership with Freed of London
You may know that our Dreamy Dancers shoes are handmade by the esteemed Freed of London, the leading designer in the world of professional dance shoes. This company has been around since 1929, and is part of the historic movement to create pointe shoes that match the dancer’s skin tone, in collaboration with Ballet Black.
This may seem trivial — as long as the shoe is well-made, what does it matter the color? Well, before Freed of London’s commitment to inclusivity in dance shoes, black, brown, and Asian dancers were forced to wear light-colored shoes that broke the all-important “fingertip to toe” continuity line. Freed of London is adamant that all dancers have the equipment designed with intentional diversity in mind.
I can relate to this challenge. In my ‘day job’ as a law enforcement ranger, I have typically been one of the only women and/or the only Hispanic ranger on the team. This led to assumptions about my background and literally forced me to make custom alterations to uniforms and equipment that was designed with men — and only men — in mind. It’s hard to feel welcomed and embraced when the day-to-day tools of the job aren’t designed for you.
Knowing how deeply committed Freed of London is to inclusivity and diversity in dance is what makes me proud to be partnered with them to make Dreamy Dancers shoes. This company clearly understands the needs of different types of dancers — from developing inclusive pointe shoe colors to piling on the unshakeable glitter that Dreamy Dancers is known for (and that little girls are in love with!).