When most people picture pointe shoes, they imagine a pair of silky, pale pink shoes. These shoes are fine for white and light-skinned women. What about Black ballerinas like Kira Robinson, though? What are they supposed to wear?
Robinson, 18 years old, is all too familiar with this struggle. For the first time in her life, though, she is finally getting to experience what it’s like to wear pointe shoes made with her in mind.
Robinson shared a video on TikTok earlier this year of herself opening a pair of pointe shoes made by the dance apparel company company Suffolk. Since the video was first posted, it’s received millions of views and thousands of comments from viewers who seem to be just as excited as she is.
YAYAYAY i’ll show you guys how they look on later #fyp #CleanTok #blackballerina #blackgirl #dancer #pointe #pointeshoes #suffolk #VisionBoard #dance
Reply to @jess.yung since everyone wanted me to put them on here’s some clips of me breaking them in!! #fyp #pointeshoes #blackballerina #ballet
In an interview with the hosts of Good Morning America, Robinson said that she has received lots of comments from people talking about how “representation is super necessary” within the dance community.
To make a point about the lack of representation for Black people in the ballet world, Robinson also explained that, in the past, she’s had to “pancake” her shoes. This means covering them in foundation so that they match her skin tone.
Robinson described these experiences as “frustrating and annoying,” but she also added that that’s “just how it is” because the dance world is “slow to accept POC dancers.”
Robinson is open about her frustration, but she is also hopeful about the future. She’s credited the Black Lives Matter movement for increasing diversity in products, including pointe shoes.
She hopes to be able to inspire other dancers of color and let them know that there’s room for them in the dance world, too. She wants people to see her dance and “realize there can always be a brown ballerina on the stage.”
Those who want to keep up with Kira Robinson can follow her on TikTok, where the viral video was originally posted, or on Instagram.