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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Matching tights and shoes to skin tone - buy or create?


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Hi Everyone,


My daughter is African American and her Nutcracker costume requires her to wear tights and canvas shoes that

her skin tone. Previously in performances and classes pink tights and shoes were accepted.

My daughter's school is pre-pro with a resident company, but there are few AA older dancers. I've

been told that you can buy foundation and somehow use this to

match the color of her skin- but I have absolutely no idea how to do this.

I've searched the web and I can't find instructions. My next possibility is

to buy tights online. However there are no accurate examples of colors - how do you

get samples or accurate info? This does not address the shoe question either. So

does anyone have web resources for instructions or where to get samples before buying?


Note: I have not spoken to the older dancers because our

schedules don't overlap - daughter is in class 4x a week but not at

the same studio location as older dancers.

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Some big dance shops in the NY area stock tights and shoes in a variety of "flesh" tones, but I do know that most shops can order in any color. It is worth a trip to check out. In the Nut production my daughter was in last year the costume department dyed the slippers of some of the performers.


Hope this helps!

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Regarding coloring the ballet slippers/pointe shoes, if you are able to get the right foundation color (at the drug store), purchase the compact style, not the liquid style. You can use a foundation sponge and start adding it to the shoes and ribbons. Start at a less visable part of the shoe so you can practice for a few strokes before you do the toe. You may need to do several coats to get the depth of color you want. You can also dye the shoes. There are several videos posted on youtube that show you how. The foundation method is pretty fast and you can control the quality of the color. It also does not really get the fabric wet so you don't have to worry about shrinkage. You can practice on an old pair so you aren't as nervous!


Good luck!

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Since this production is with a professional company I'm going to assume they also have a professional costume dept. In that case, I would ask whomever is the liaison what they might suggest, simply because a costume shop should have a Dye dept., and should be capable of dying white tights and canvas shoes to skintone.

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DD is AA and has had good luck getting tights to match her skin tone. She is very dark but found a couple of colors of different makes that matched. We first went to a dance store to match colors from there got a sense of what "suntan"(I don't think that is the color she wheres) looked like for a vareity of different makes so we could then order online. DD has also had to dye/color shoes (pointe and flats) to match skin tone - both in and out of tights. At this point I can't remember how she did it, but they are a close approximation. I am pretty sure you can buy AA skin tone flats, as I have seen performances of the Harlem dance theatre and all the kids had them. YOu might check their website and Ailey's to see if they have a store you can purchase them from,

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Most tights companies make 3 shades of brown tights (a yellow based tan, a red based suntan and a darker brown) and that was always a source of frustration when parents needed skin tone color tights for dancers of color. Depending on your daughter's actual skin tone one of those might work easily. But if not, I'd go to the costumers of the company to see if they can dye for you (for a price of course). If that doesn't work, you may call tutu.com. They dye shoes and might also dye tights for you.


The local ballet company of ethnic dancers uses leather shoes and sprays theirs.

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One of our members who is not a parent, recommended www.shadesofdance.org for a wide range of tights colors for ethnic dancers. Fabulous variety.

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Good to know! My children are half chinese and all dark! lol Standard "nude" does not work on my DD, thanks for the resource! :grinning:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the information and the online resource. Our costume department does do the dye matching for the shoes but I did need to buy the tights (for class and performances). Locally (I live in Chicago) Motions Unlimited has a wide variety of Capezio colors. Be aware though that they don't have samples of the colors typical for AA dancers, they don't open packages and no returns on tights (even if unopened).

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