Dance is one of the oldest forms of self-expression. In the middle ages, it could designate your status or suitability; later on, it became a form of entertainment. Dances themselves also represent various cultures, as many of them have their own traditional dances or moves. But at the same time, there are more universal dances, the kind that you would find all over the world—especially nowadays—that stand for the beauty of expression instead of deeper heritage.

And while that’s commendable, as dancing became a universal thing, another problem arose. Certain dances require certain equipment, and the said equipment can then be made to reflect the needs of one race of people while neglecting others. Sadly, ballet is one of the dances that has strict rules, particularly in the clothing dancers wear. That’s exactly the problem Kira Robinson faced—how to find a ballet shoes that reflect her skin tone without going through Herculean trials.

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Kira Robinson, an 18-year-old ballet student, received ballet shoes in her own skin color

Image credits: kiraelon

Image credits: kiraelon

One of the signature items associated with ballet is the shoes. Each dancer has to perform while wearing pointe shoes. The tricky part is, they are usually meant for Caucasians, coming in white or pink (there are other colors too, but those usually correspond to specific costumes, so they are rare). And that’s why Kira Robinson, a 18-year-old ballet student at the University of Oklahoma, was overjoyed when she received pointe shoes that match her skin color. The video quickly went viral, with 440.2K likes and 1.4m views.

@kiraelonYAYAYAY i’ll show you guys how they look on later ##fyp ##CleanTok ##blackballerina ##blackgirl ##dancer ##pointe ##pointeshoes ##suffolk ##VisionBoard ##dance♬ original sound – kira <3

Robinson posted another celebratory video, showing off her new pointe shoes

Image credits: kiraelon

Image credits: kiraelon

After her video, she received a request from a follower to dance in the new shoes. And so she did! The video showcasing the pointe shoes was equally well-received, with people saying “This is [the] first time I’ve seen points in shades other than pink or white” and “I’m so glad they finally do ballet shoes in more shades, it’s ridiculous it took so long! These look stunning.” The color of the shoes is seemingly such a small thing, but it matters in the grand scheme of things, especially for communities that have been neglected.

@kiraelonReply to @jess.yung since everyone wanted me to put them on here’s some clips of me breaking them in!! ##fyp ##pointeshoes ##blackballerina ##ballet♬ Jake25.17 sound – 🦋Olivia🦋

POC dancers can now look forward to more representation from big companies

Image credits: kiraelon

Image credits: kiraelon

Robinson revealed the new shoes were a replacement for her old—pink—ones. She used to cover them with foundation so they would match her skin, but it’s undoubtedly a messy and long process. The reason for such measures was because ballet often requires a so-called ‘nude’ look, meaning your attire should match your complexion. And many dancers who don’t fit the perceived standard are left struggling. Suffolk—the company that designed Robinson’s brown shoes—is one of the companies that stepped up to provide the dancers with what they need.

Diversity and representation are very important, especially in the dance world

Image credits: kiraelon

After her joyous video went viral, Robinson was invited to appear on Good Morning America. She said she has received a lot of support from people, but the comments on her TikTok all echoed the idea that representation in the dance world matters, but you don’t see it often. “Sometimes it’s frustrating and annoying, but it’s just how it is. The dance world is slow to accept POC dancers, and I’ve just had to deal with it and do what I need to do to perform.”

Recent global events have inspired change on a grander scale

Image credits: kiraelon

Image credits: kiraelon

According to the student, there was a major shift in the market due to Black Lives Matter movement. “A lot of people were fed up with companies’ lack of effort in diversifying their brand and it has taken a long time to see that change,” she said during the interview. “Many have signed and sent petitions to ballet brands to create more colors in their products, and Suffolk was one that heard our plea and started making those changes.”

Supportive comments were quick to follow