Ballerina’s who are People of Colour, unfortunately, have limited access to pointe shoes which are an essential part of the aesthetic. They also are not given as many main roles in comparison to the ‘average’ ballerina.
Chloe-Anne Brown, 22, who used to study dance at the University of Salford.
She said: “The amount of people who have been put off because of the colour of their skin to do ballet is really upsetting. Even from people of colour in the industry who are up there, they had to work twice as hard as any other average ballerina, just because they don’t fit the aesthetic.”
Chloe-Anne comes from a dancing family and was therefore put into dancing at a very early age.
She commented: “I guess in a way I was forced to start it as a child, but then I realised how much I genuinely loved it, so I carried on. I feel like it’s very empowering, so you just feel really strong when you’re doing it.”
However, it is not just the roles and shoes that make some dancers feel left out.
Chloe-Anne also felt isolated at times when she realised that she was the only person of colour in a class.
She recalled: “So straight away you have to remember that everyone is so biased, so even like now when I walk into the room the very first thing I look for is diversity. Like I’m looking around like ‘am I the only person of colour in this room’. Yes. And when you realise that it isolates you a bit.”
Another dancer who also studied at the University of Salford, Jessica Hendrickson, 21, started dancing when she was around 12 years old.
Jessica said: “I went to a couple of classes and then found my feet in this company that I went to. I went into college studying performing arts and I went to university studying dance. So yeah, it continued from there really.
“If I’m dancing on my own, like freestyling, it’s a joyous emotion. It makes me feel really free.”
She stated how most people see ballerinas as petite and blonde haired, and how ‘you don’t see a black woman as a ballerina’.
She said: “Well, no, it’s not enough [the representation] at all. I’ve not come from a ballet background per se, more an industry but I know the representation for ballet dancers is not enough at all.”