Kira Robinson is a freshman ballet major at the University of Oklahoma. She was ecstatic to get her first pair of brown pointe shoes last month.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 16, 2021. It has since been updated.
Kira Robinson, 18, is a ballerina. The dance form has for decades been dominated by white dancers, but she is breaking stereotypes about who can do ballet. Unfortunately, a sad part of being a pathbreaker in this field is that the idea of "nude" clothes and accessories is very limited. It is quite rare to find tutus or pointe shoes in nude shades unless you look very hard or are ready to pay a hefty price. However, in January 2021, Robinson filmed herself opening up her first pair of nude pointe shoes in a color that matches her skin tone. She uploaded the clip to TikTok, where it quickly gained people's attention, The Independent reports.
The TikTok video reached 86,000 followers on the platform—and beyond. Since it was first uploaded, it has been watched more than 1.4 million times. In the clip, Robinson is incredibly excited as she explains how amazing it is to finally have ballet shoes that match her brown skin tone. She tells viewers that she previously had to cover her pointe shoes in foundation to make them match her skin tone. On camera, she unboxes her new Suffolk shoes, which have since replaced her old pink pointe shoes.
She was invited for an interview on Good Morning America. She has reportedly been inundated with positive comments on the clip. "I received a lot of comments on my TikTok about how representation is super necessary in the dance world and how a lot of people don’t have that or see that often," she said. "Sometimes it’s frustrating and annoying, but it’s just how it is. The dance world is slow to accept [dancers of color], and I’ve just had to deal with it and do what I need to do to perform." Robinson is a freshman ballet major at the University of Oklahoma.
She also posted a video of herself dancing in the new brown pointe shoes after receiving a request from a follower. On that video, one TikTok user commented, "This is [the] first time I’ve seen points in shades other than pink or white." Another user added, "I’m so glad they finally do ballet shoes in more shades, it’s ridiculous it took so long! These look stunning."
According to Robinson, diversity has become a greater priority following recent events. "I think we are seeing more diversity in products because of the Black Lives Matter movement," she said during her appearance on television. "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. 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."
Suffolk, the brand which designed the brown pointe shoes, is a family business run by founders Mark and Keri Suffolk. Keri is a former dancer with a background in fashion design and purchasing for upscale retail. She leads the company in sales, product development and distribution in the United States. Mark, on the other hand, is a former engineer with over 30 years of experience in pointe shoe manufacturing. He personally designs each shoe in the Suffolk collection and oversees production to ensure its high standards. The company's website reads, "Professional companies, dancers and retailers around the world look to Suffolk for our unparalleled pointe shoes, modern dancewear and innovative accessories. We believe in fair-trade practices, handcrafted workmanship, the best materials and personal service. But most of all, we believe in dancers like you." You can check out their brown pointe shoes here, which cost about $110.