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'It’s slow progress, but it’s happening': OU ballet student's reaction to pointe shoes matching her skin tone goes viral

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Kira Robinson

Kira Robinson poses, showing off her new pointe shoes. 

An OU ballet student went viral this month on TikTok with a video of her unboxing a pair of pointe shoes made for people of color that match her skin tone.

Kira Robinson, a pre-medicine and ballet freshmen, posted the unboxing video of Suffolk’s new colors of pointe shoes. Suffolk is a UK-based ballet apparel business that announced last June it would be producing two new colors of pointe shoes: bronze and brown. Previously, the company had only offered bronze shoes as a “special order,” according to their Instagram post announcing the newly available shades.

Robinson ordered a brown pair in July and posted about receiving the hand-made shoes Jan. 17. The video has surpassed 1 million views and as of Feb. 17 has 440 thousand likes. Within a month of posting, Robinson had gone viral.

“It was surreal,” Robinson said. “I can’t even put it into words.”

Robinson began doing ballet when she was 6 years old in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. She started off in a studio across the street from her childhood home. Since then, she has known she wanted to go to college for dance, she said.

When she was around 13, Robinson began buying her pointe shoes from Suffolk. They only sold pink shoes, so she had to “pancake” them — the process of sponging foundation that matches a ballerina’s skin color onto the shoes. For Robinson, this was a time-consuming process.

“The new Suffolk shoes were worth it,” Robinson said. “They were worth the wait.”

Robinson applied to multiple schools across the country, but OU caught her eye. When she was auditioning for the OU School of Dance, she said she felt that the directors and instructors wanted to know more about her as a person, not just as a student.

“I knew that they would accept me for who I am,” Robinson said. “Not just tolerate me.”

Robinson has been doing ballet for 12 years and is familiar with race problems in the ballet world, she said.

“There are a lot of diversity problems in the ballet world. They are slow in working with POC dancers and dark-skinned dancers in general,” Robinson said. “It’s slow progress, but it’s happening.”

While becoming viral was not part of Robinson’s plans, she said she’s happy that it happened. It’s given her experiences she never thought possible, like being featured in a Good Morning America article. It’s also given her a chance to make prejudice within the ballet world known to those outside of it.

“(The video is) bringing more awareness to things that need to be discussed,” Robinson said.

@kiraelon

Reply 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🦋

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