Ronya-Lee Anderson is a multimedia artist, educator, and a graduate of Duke Divinity School.

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Lauren Anderson's Faith in Ballet's Diverse Future

by Ronya-Lee Anderson 06-03-2019
Talking race, faith, and dance with the first black principal ballerina of the Houston Ballet.

Lauren Anderson. Photo by Owen Conflenti

BLACK BALLERINAS have long perfected the art of altering pink tights and ballet shoes to match their skin tones. The night before a class with company members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first black classical ballet company, pots of water with multiple tea bags boiled on the stove in my home, so I could dye my legwear and footwear. It was a process my mother swore by—and it worked.

In November 2018, nearly 200 years after pink ballet shoes were designed for white dancers, the company Freed of London released pointe shoes in colors that match Asian and black skin tones. It’s a step in the right direction, even though the ballet world continues to be characterized by whiteness.