HuffPost chronicled the origins of ballet and the Euro-classical ethos that echoes through the aesthetics of the form today. Citing the iconic 19th century Edgar Degas painting, Examen de Danse, writer Rohina Katoch Sehra explains how beauty and artistry were coalesced with whiteness. This is personified by the sea of fair skinned women in tutus twirling about Degas' ballet class.
Western elitist values emanate throughout the technique, which prioritizes poise and daintiness for women, a requirement of archaic aristocracy. A homogeneity expected of the corps de ballet has kept many poc dancers out of the stage lights, as orthodox ballet masters fear adding color would ruin the uniformity. Heavily policed and radicalized bodies add a political and sociological depth to ballet, a shift many are afraid will take away the “purity” of the form.
At the same time that the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre defended their use of black face for their production of La Bayadére; black ballerina Precious Adams decided in an iconoclastic move to wear tights that matched her dark, brown skin at the English National Ballet. Companies like Dance Theatre of Harlem push back on the stigma of black ballet, by having all of their dancers clad in flesh tone tights rather than the classical pink.
The rise of dancers of all races requires color sensitive brands that can cater to the diversity taking the dance world by storm. Nude Barre’s founder, Erin Carpenter, used her own struggles in the dance industry to give back to artists who are underrepresented and often left out of the conversation. It is Nude Barre’s mission to cater to all hu(e)mans performing life, as every performer deserves for their star to shine bright!
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