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Arch enhancers


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#1 canbelto

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 06:45 PM

What do people think of arch enhancers? I didn't even know they existed but I guess they are worn to give the illusion of extremely arched feet for dancers who aren't Svetlana Zakharova or Sylvie Guillem. Since then I've started to look for them and I see that Natalia Osipova, among others, seems to wear them. They're the most obvious at her website on the very first photo in the "Giselle2" gallery, but they can also be seen here.
Personally, I think it's kind of sad that ballet now has such high standards of appearance that dancers wear these bulky pads. I can't imagine them being very comfortable, and I'm sure Osipova's feet would look fine without them. Are these becoming more and more common among professional dancers?

#2 vipa

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:10 PM

What do people think of arch enhancers? I didn't even know they existed but I guess they are worn to give the illusion of extremely arched feet for dancers who aren't Svetlana Zakharova or Sylvie Guillem. Since then I've started to look for them and I see that Natalia Osipova, among others, seems to wear them. They're the most obvious at her website on the very first photo in the "Giselle2" gallery, but they can also be seen here.
Personally, I think it's kind of sad that ballet now has such high standards of appearance that dancers wear these bulky pads. I can't imagine them being very comfortable, and I'm sure Osipova's feet would look fine without them. Are these becoming more and more common among professional dancers?


I don't know how common they are, but it seems silly to me. It is the flexibility and strength of the foot, and the line that can be created that matters, not the bump on top. I can't imagine that bulky pads would result in a dancer being cast in more ballets or being more loved by an audience. Perhaps it is a result of insecurity or misplaced priorities.

#3 dirac

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:12 PM

Good question, canbelto. It is kind of like stuffing Kleenex into your bra, isn't it? As long as they don't hurt the dancer or cause discomfort there's no harm in them, but I wouldn't like to see dancers taking any chances just to attain Banana Feet. As vipa notes, it's not the look that's most important. Not everyone can be Alessandra Ferri or Lynn Seymour, and would that even be desirable?

I, too, would be interested to know if this is a trend.

#4 Helene

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:14 PM

Given what toe shoes do to toes, it's hard for me, a civilian, to imagine how adding something padded would be more uncomfortable.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:33 PM

I think feet will be the Next New Thing. There are already articles about strength in pointe work appearing in the teaching literature (and, I believe, even in Pointe), and lots of different kinds of "enhancements."

#6 vipa

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:38 PM

I think feet will be the Next New Thing. There are already articles about strength in pointe work appearing in the teaching literature (and, I believe, even in Pointe), and lots of different kinds of "enhancements."


I wish musicality would be the Next New Thing -- I guess I'm an old fogey.

#7 canbelto

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:40 PM

I think that it just looks bulky, especially when the foot isn't pointed. Zenaida Yanowsky and these Bolshoi ballerinas also seem to be wearing them.

#8 Hans

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:58 PM

At SAB, some of the boys used to put cotton balls on top of our feet inside our tights or socks. The problem, of course, is that if you ever have to dance in a ballet without tights or barefoot, your feet will look rather different.

#9 carbro

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 09:24 PM

It would look very strange if the sole doesn't curve as much as the top. In the Agon photo, Yanowsky's standing foot doesn't look like it has anything, but the attitude foot looks like it might.

I've never noticed this, and I've been paying a bit of attention to ladies' feet these days, as so few point fully when in motion. We have an epidemic of lazy toes, and I don't know what kind of enhancer can help that.

#10 bart

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 04:51 AM

I hope this is a trend that goes away quickly. It actually calls attention to the feet -- creating an illusion of bulkiness, the opposite of sleek. I love dirac's comparison to stuffing Kleenex into bras.

Actually this is in no way an "arch enhancer." It's a kind of camouflage -- a diversion. They are trying to downplay a problem by exaggerating something else. "Small breasts? Try an artificial hump on your back. Everyone will look at that!"

I'm with vipa:

I don't know how common they are, but it seems silly to me. It is the flexibility and strength of the foot, and the line that can be created that matters, not the bump on top.


Possibly this is less obtrusive when worn by dancers, like those in canbelto's photos, who usually perform in huge theaters with the the audience seated far away. From close up, they give the impression of bandaging.

#11 canbelto

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:38 AM

Here is a video of Zenaida Yanowsky which has many many closeups of her arch-enhanced feet:


I agree with carbro that especially with those dancers without much of an arch in their soles, it just looks like a huge bunion or bandage in the middle of the foot. I just wonder if ballet companies are now encouraging dancers to wear them.

#12 richard53dog

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 09:06 AM

Here is a video of Zenaida Yanowsky which has many many closeups of her arch-enhanced feet:


I agree with carbro that especially with those dancers without much of an arch in their soles, it just looks like a huge bunion or bandage in the middle of the foot. I just wonder if ballet companies are now encouraging dancers to wear them.


Her feet look all thick and swollen when they are flat on the floor in the Sylvia clip. It looks like there are some unattractive
side effects for the illusion of a greater degree of arch when her feet are pointed. I don't really like the effect.

#13 Gina Ness

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 07:59 PM

I can't stand the idea of arch enhancement. I agree with you all!

#14 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 11:46 PM

Didn't Gelsey Kirkland had some sort of reconstructive surgery to enhance her arch...?

#15 carbro

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 12:06 AM

It occurred to me that a dancer like Virginia Johnson, whose feet were very asymmetrically arched, might use one to reduce the mismatch of appearance.


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