ENTERTAINMENT

Ballet West sheds tradition, dancers will wear tights that match their skin color

Oct 4, 2020, 4:36 PM
Ballet West new tights...
FILE: Ballet West - 13 Offenbach in the underworld © Douglas Robertson

SALT LAKE CITY — The artistic director of Salt Lake City’s premier ballet company says this isn’t about being “woke.” Instead, Adam Sklute says “this is how an old world Northern European imperialistic art form can be a 21st-century art form for everyone.”

Specifically, Sklute is talking about the revelation he had when watching his troupe perform.  “[We have this] wonderfully diverse group of women, they have all of these different colors up top, and all of them had pink legs and feet,” Sklute said.

“I said, ‘that really does look weird.’ They should continue their lines, and look their proper color all the way across their bodies.”

Sklute conducted a 3-month audit at Ballet West to determine what they needed to do.  This resulted in sweeping changes to what their dancers will wear. 

More than just new tights

Now, Ballet West will match the dancer’s tights to the color of their skin.  In addition, the company will dye pointe shoes and flat shoes to match the dancer’s skin.  Ballet West will do the same thing with dress- and shoe-straps, as well as makeup.  The company will not have a dancer use makeup that points to an ethnicity other than their own.  And the traditional “paling” makeup will also no longer be used.  

Bucking Tradition

Ballet West isn’t alone. Sklute says these kinds of changes “just haven’t been done [in the States.] I can name [the other companies] on less than one hand.” 

He says some companies may be reluctant to revise how their dancers look, and for a couple of reasons.  One is the long history of classical dance. Sklute says the pink tights and shoes didn’t begin as ‘racist.’ “When classical ballet began, in all fairness, it was an all Caucasian art form. ” And as time marched on … the trappings of that didn’t change.  “It has been historical, that no matter what their race, dancers will wear pink tights and pink shoes.”

The other reason is practical. “There is a cost factor involved.”

More satisfying for crowd and performers

Sklute says this “will ultimately eliminate a question from my perspective.”  A question that he says many ballet patrons occasionally ask, which is, “why does that brown girl have on pink tights?”

But, Sklute seems to be more passionate about the effect this will have on his dancers.  “I have a wonderfully diverse company.  I want to celebrate them across the board.”

“From a performer’s perspective, I can tell you that when my dancers of color are allowed to look like the people that they are on stage, their confidence level goes up.  And they feel more like the artists they are supposed to be when they are in their own skin.”

 

 

 

Today’s Top Stories

Entertainment

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Evening...
Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American activist and actress, dead at 75

In August, the Academy formally apologized to Littlefeather for the mistreatment she experienced during her speech and in the years that followed.
11 hours ago
Actor Conor Leslie with her newly adopted dog, Delores at the FanX convention that was held Sept. 2...
Amie Schaeffer

DC Universe star finds fur-ever friend at SLC FanX convention

Ruff Patch Rescue is a nonprofit that helps adopt out animals that need a little extra TLC. The organization recently set up at FanX.
5 days ago
Netflix gaming...
Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business

Netflix to open its own video game studio as part of gaming pivot

The streaming giant is building its first in-house video game studio in Helsinki, Finland, as it expands its empire over mobile games.
5 days ago
hurricane ian florida...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Status of Florida theme parks, cruise ships and more as Ian approaches

Floridians are keeping an anxious eye on Hurricane Ian, including the operators of Florida's popular theme parks.
6 days ago
(Photo courtesy of Salt_Verse on Twitter)...
Rachel Metz, CNN Business

This guy is using AI to make movies — and you can help decide what happens next

"Salt" resembles many science-fiction films from the '70s and early '80s. The way it was created points to what could be a new frontier for making movies.
8 days ago
BYU Student on Survivor...
Kate Davis

BYU student and youngest-ever Survivor contestant says he’s confident he will win

BYU Student and youngest-ever Survivor contestant, Sami Layadi, says he is confident he will win this season of the series
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Ballet West sheds tradition, dancers will wear tights that match their skin color