Hello and Welcome to this week’s Famous Friday.
This week we will be highlighting Rachel Hutsell who is a dancer for the New York City Ballet. She was born to her black mom and white dad of which were both doctors. She was raised in Houston, Texas and was the oldest of her three sisters. Their mother homeschooled them and brought them to dance classes and competitions throughout there early years. The girls would later end up training with dance masters such as ballerina Lorena Feijoo. She started her dance career at only 6 years old with the Allegro West Academy for Dance where she stayed from 2003-2012. After attending the summer courses at the School of the American Ballet, in the fall of 2012, she enrolled as a full-time student. In August of 2015, she was invited to be an apprentice with the New York City Ballet. She was the foundation of corps roles in productions such as Justin Peck’s The Most Incredible Thing and in Kim Brandstrup’s Jeux. In August of 2016, she became a corps de ballet member.
As a dancer she has had a difficult time finding ballet slippers and pointe shoes in a skin tone of which would match hers. For many years she had been applying immense amounts of foundation and make up to her shoes in order to get the skin tone of the shoe to match her skin. This process is called “pancaking” and would take her about an hour per pair of shoes, with dancers going through pair of pointe shoes per each show, this took lots of time and effort and this was a small barrier in the industry of mostly Caucasian women but this did not stop Hutsell from chasing after her dreams and breaking new barriers. Now she has partnered with shoe manufacturers such as Freed of London of which have begun to produce ballet shoes in multiple shades. She has been the start of diversity within ballet and is ecstatic that she can finally have pointe shoes in a color that suits her skin tone.
Photo Credit: https://mobballet.org/index.php/2020/09/04/rachel-hutsell/
By: Anna Garrison, Co-Vice President of Project Race