canbelto

Arch enhancers

45 posts in this topic

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?

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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

Share this post


Link to post

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."

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytFdZYwAQVw

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.

Share this post


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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytFdZYwAQVw

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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

Share this post


Link to post

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

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


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

I thought I read that somewhere that there is a way to have some kind of silicone (like breast enhancements) implanted in her arches.

I think feet are the "thing" right now. I have seen beautiful dancers rejected by major programs and companies when they have everything else except huge arches. I dont think Osopova is wearing arch enhancers. I think she has elastic inserts in her shoes but I cannt see arch enhances. However onstage her feet are quite strange. I have heard that Zenada wears them. I wonder if it gives the dancer more confidence onstage.

Share this post


Link to post

If you look at Osipova's website you'll definitely see some pictures where the arch enhancer is obvious. I read an interview with Altynai Asylmuratova in which she said she wanted all the girls at the Vaganova School to have feet as pretty as the girls at the Paris Opera school. I would hate to think that schools such as the POB and Vaganova are rejecting girls simply because of a lack of banana arches, considering how many great dancers have had less than ideal feet.

Share this post


Link to post

Not every dancer at POB has a big arch. Rather, it's the way they use their feet that makes them so extraordinary.

Share this post


Link to post

I don't know why banana arches are considered that attractive. From the side, there was little line to McBride's feet, for example.

Probably a minority opinion, but the thing I like most about Suzanne Farrell physically -- apart from musicality and her energy and sense of risk -- was her feet, the only dancer who could make me unaware that she was wearing pointe shoes, and her feet couldn't have been more different than McBrides. I could watch her feet in Chaconne -- especially with the emphasis on walking in the role -- or Mozartiana all day long.

Share this post


Link to post
I read an interview with Altynai Asylmuratova in which she said she wanted all the girls at the Vaganova School to have feet as pretty as the girls at the Paris Opera school. I would hate to think that schools such as the POB and Vaganova are rejecting girls simply because of a lack of banana arches, considering how many great dancers have had less than ideal feet.

canbelto, for the record (supposing you are thinking of the Asylmuratova interview here), what Altynai Asylmuratova admires about the Paris Opera dancers is how they use their feet, their attention to the footwork - not that they all have allegedly ideal arches (which they don't). She's basically just comparing schools and their respective qualities/shortcomings.

To avoid further misunderstandings - AA: "Graduates from the Paris Opera Ballet School are perfect in this respect. Their feet are a true delight. Even though our School has always been famous for arms and upper body, I think it should be possible to enhance our feet. It's not even a question of changing the methods of teaching, we just need to switch the accents."

Share this post


Link to post

Marc, do you know what "switch the accents" means in this context? Is it something very technical? Or is she just saying, in effect, "spend more time working on"?

Share this post


Link to post
Marc, do you know what "switch the accents" means in this context? Is it something very technical? Or is she just saying, in effect, "spend more time working on"?

Bart, it means that they need to take better/more care of certain things than they used to.

Share this post


Link to post

It is very obvious when a dancer wears arch enhancers: first it deforms the foots natural curve. Where is the beauty in that? Many younger dancers use these enhancers, in class or auditions and are told very boldy to remove them. I know some professionals who use them, and again it takes away the natural beauty of the foot, it makes them look awkward and you begin to wonder what is wrong with that dancers feet, instead of the beauty of the movement.

Share this post


Link to post

Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of my favorite companies and I know for certain, under the direction of Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, that beautiful, extreme, high-arched feet were a requirement for any dancer to walk through the studio door.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw Whitney Jensen perform at YAGP and she was wearing them. It made her foot look strange because the underside of the foot did not correspond with the top of the foot.

Share this post


Link to post