Guest post by Cynthia King, Professional Dancer and Creator of vegan ballet slippers.
I first made the connection between the animals that I loved and the food on one’s plate years before I was a professional dancer, at age 10. It drove me to become vegetarian, then vegan. Later it guided me to create Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers.
Dance celebrates the beauty of life. It’s true that some dancers suffer for their art, but people who do that have chosen to. Animals who suffer for the sake of performances whether because they are performing or their skins are being used for dance shoes have no say in their fate. As a dancer, and a vegan, I didn’t want any animal to suffer for the sake of my art. As a young dancer I searched for a vegan ballet slipper and had no success finding a suitable alternative. When I became a teacher, students and their parents asked me to recommend shoes--there just were no good ethical options available. That’s when I decided to create my own vegan ballet slippers. After a lengthy development process, the first shoes were ready in 2003. Today Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers come in three colors (peach pink, pastel pink, and black) and are sized for children and adults, suitable for both male and female dancers. They are the only ready-to-wear vegan slippers produced worldwide, and the orders we receive from around the globe reflect that. The slippers have seen their share of the spotlight too, having been secured for Voguephoto shoots as well as being used by Alvin Ailey dance camps to outfit their campers. Not too long ago young Cynthia King Dance Studio students participated in a photo shoot (pictured below) featuring the vegan ballet slippers at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. It helped the dancers to connect the vegan slippers with the individual animals they were saving by wearing them. It warms my heart each time an order comes in, because I know that every pair purchased means that someone has chosen compassion over cruelty. And I love seeing them on all of my young students’ feet, knowing that no animals have suffered for the sake of their dance.
In addition to my vegan ballet slippers, I create a lot of dance pieces at Cynthia King Dance Studio (my school in Brooklyn) that are about animals. I’ve choreographed dances that celebrate the ways animals move, and one that served as an exposeé about animals in entertainment. Recently I created a piece titled, “Dinner” in which dancers played animals on a plate and then performed as ghosts of their former selves describing in movement what it was like to be alive. I’m looking forward to staging another production in October 2012 that will again take on animal issues through the art of dance.
Editor's Note: You don't have to be a vegan to buy these vegan ballet slippers. If you care about animals, and want to help reduce their suffering one step at a time, this is a perfect way to make a difference. Order a pair for your child and be proud that you are choosing compassion over cruelty. Your kids will feel proud too!
Cynthia King, a professional dancer since 1978, has been teaching and choreographing for children and adults since 1986. She trained extensively at the Boston Conservatory and The Ailey School, honing her skills under the tutelage of legendary dancers including Carmen De Lavallade, and Rod Rodgers of whose dance company she was a member. Ms. King has been credited by the New York Department of Education with developing “…one of the most comprehensive dance programs in the district.” In 2002, Ms. King launched the Cynthia King Dance Studio where her innovative curriculum embraces classical to emerging styles including ballet, tap, modern, B-boy/B-girl, and hip hop. Combining her passion for dance and compassion for animals, Ms. King developed ready-to-wear cruelty free, vegan ballet slippers. The slippers are popular worldwide and are the required slipper for two of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's innovative camps. Ms. King is an energetic community member and activist, having served on the Board of Flatbush Family Network, Vote Humane, and Windsor Terrace Alliance, and currently serving on the Board of Directors for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. She and the studio proudly support the PTAs of local public schools, DanceNYC, Our Hen House, Farm Sanctuary, and Animals Asia. Ms. King lives with her husband, two sons, two dogs and one cat in Kensington, Brooklyn.