By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Dancewear brand Capezio recently announced that it’s making its pointe shoes more inclusive.This news follows a Change.org petition started by Megan Watson calling on the brand to provide skin color inclusive dance clothing.On Wednesday, Capezio CEO Michael A. Terlizzi issued a statement confirming that the company will now offer two of the retailer’s most popular pointe shoe styles in darker shades beginning in fall of 2020.”As a family-owned company, our core values are tolerance, inclusion, and love for all, and we are committed to a dance world free of bias or prejudice,” Terlizzi said. “We support all dancers’ dreams to express themselves through beautiful art of dance.”After more than 319,000 signatures and Wednesday’s statement from Capezio, Watson has closed the petition.”Thank you for signing, sharing your experience, and spreading the world,” she said in a statement. “It’s because of you that this change was possible.”She told ABC News’ Good Morning America: “I really appreciate that Capezio has created a dedicated email account so that the doors are open to whatever everyone else feels passionate enough to ask for. I really hope dancers do ask.”She continued, “Capezio seems to genuinely care about what their community wants and needs from them. I’m glad to see that not only did they listen, but they acted upon the calls for change.”Many dancers of color have expressed their frustration with the lack of inclusive apparel options available.”As a black dancer who has recently started doing pointe this past year, this issue bothers me deeply so I can only imagine how dancers who’ve been doing pointe for multiple years or even professional ballerinas feel,” Dallas-based dancer Briana Bell, 18, told GMA in an earlier interview. “Having to go through multiple pairs of pointe shoes a week and break them in is already taxing, but having to pancake them on top of all that … it’s ridiculous and could be avoided.”Another go-to retailer for many dancers, Bloch, recently responded to a 2018 Change.org petition as well as concerns from its community demanding more inclusive apparel.The company released a statement saying it would be expanding shades for its pointe shoes this fall.”We have been intently listening, reflecting on what we are doing, and what we can do better and acknowledge we have not been moving fast enough,” Bloch told GMA in a statement.The company has also been working with dancers to develop its new offerings. But the process has slowed down because of the COVID-19 outbreak.”However we are fully committed to following through with these plans and confirm we will be introducing darker shades into our Pointe shoes and Blochsox range in fall this year, with further product announcements to follow,” the company said. “We will also be addressing our color names and making changes as soon as possible.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.