Breaking Traditions in Ballet

Pink tights, Pink shoes...

1:35 PM

Nearly every ballet studio dress code in the world includes the following line: "girls must wear pink tights and pink shoes..."

sometimes they let you wear white canvas! That's exciting. 

Can we talk about this for a minute? I think now is a good time. 

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Oh, you guys know how much I love breaking traditions in ballet. 

The idea of pink tights and shoes for all female dancers comes from the traditional history of ballet. When ballet originated back in Italy and Paris, most of the dancers were very pale, and had pink or rosy skin. So naturally, they wore what matched their face and arms. 

The idea was to extend the lines and make their limbs look longer and more elegant. 

Flash-forward to the 20-21 centuries when dancers of all ethnicities and skin tones are now participating in ballet. All over the world, dancers are lined up in pink tights and pink shoes. 

Meanwhile, if you look at the top half of their bodies, we see all kinds of colors. 

It's really quite odd. 

brown legs pink shoes
I know this picture is horrible, but I feel it makes a good point.

Arthur Mitchel of Dance Theatre of Harlem made the change quite a while ago when he asked all dancers to wear colored tights. 

I watched this presentation by Homor Hans Bryant while putting together my TED Talk for Dance playlist. It struck me and has stuck with me - why do we make brown dancers wear pink tights? As a ballet teacher and dancer, we are so used to seeing it that we don't even notice how strange it looks. He shows this picture to illustrate the idea of how uncomfortable it would make us feel if we switched it.