canbelto

Arch enhancers

45 posts in this topic

Fashion decides what parts receive enhancement. For historical perspective, just look at the bustles of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. And it wasn't just then, either. About a century earlier, "cork rumps" came into fashion. There was a cartoon of ladies floating about in the ocean on their backsides. This was at the same time that men were still wearing breeches, and for those poorly-endowed in the foreleg, they could buy "pithen calves" to bolster their appearance. Alexander Hamilton was exceedingly vain about his shapely pins and would wear red stockings in order to force people to look at them! As for arch enhancers, fine for stage, if they're properly fitted, but never for class!

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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.

Yes it looks very strange - as if there's some kind of a growth on the foot.

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This is from the perspective of someone who has never been in a ballet class.

When I first started watching ballet, I remember my friends, who had a higher knowledge of the art, talking about and comparing dancers' empeines-(the Spanish word to denominate the arch/curve of the foot). I quite couldn't never understand this obsession and praising of those dancers-(females AND MALES)-who seemed to be boneless on their feet...At the end I noticed that it didn't really made certain steps more beautiful, easier or more secure to perform-(like those sautees on pointe from the Dulcinea/Kitri variation, or Giselle's solo, or the Cuban Black Swan coda). Hence, certain dancers with close to distortion arched feet were as good or bad as those with a regular arch.

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After comparing some of the rehearsal photos of Natalia Osipova to the performance photos, I do agree that she is wearing enhancers in performance. Honestly, I find this shocking. The fact that a dancer as accomplished and respected as she is feels the need to wear enhancers is sad to me. I don't think this is Osipova's bad, I think it is just a sad reality of the pressures of dancing ballet.

When I was dancing in high school, a dance mom at my school was actually the person who developed the fancy feet arch enhancers that are now available in Discount Dance Supply. She tried the enhancers out on our feet to get what she felt was her best design. I remember being so excited that I could have a quick fix for my feet. I didn't have bad feet by any means, but having a 'great' arch was something I had always dreamed of. The enhancers really don't effect your dancing, except for the fact that sometimes they can be too tight and give you a cramp in your arch.

As much as I love ballet, this is one of the reasons that I eventually quit. It is the most beautiful art form I have ever seen and I have so much respect for everyone that does it. I just feel that the pressures it puts on its young students can be incredibly unfair (i.e. arch enhancement, the need to be thin).

Dancing is as much about emotion, musicality and beauty as it is about having an arched foot.

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I'll have to look again, but for right now I'm not convinced that Osipova's feet are padded at all. In the second photo, she is sickling very badly the foot in retire, but the lumpiness of hte instep of hte standing foot looks real to me -- many dancers feet develop an almost arthritic bumpiness in the joints where the metatarsals meet the tarsals -- Patty McBride had a big bump there, that was not a pad. Kyra Nichols also. That's what Osipova's feet look like to me at least in these pictures.

A high instep makes for thrilling geometry, especially when the knee is bent, in coupes or passes. It's said that Gelsey kirland had silicone implants in her insteps, and indeed they WERE high insteps -- which DID fabulously sharpen the line of her lower leg in pas de chat. In a ballet like Theme and Variations, where there's a dazzling phrase that involves double pirouettes and pas de chats, moving very fast, those brilliantly pointed feet of hers made dazzlingly faceted traceries every time the knee bent and the foot came up....

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Kirkland always had those feet, at least as far back as when she was eleven, which is when I met her. One of the things which distinguished her from other students with gorgeous feet was that in addition to being beautiful, they were also strong!

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Thanks, Mel -- I never wanted to believe that....

Kirkland always had those feet, at least as far back as when she was eleven, which is when I met her. One of the things which distinguished her from other students with gorgeous feet was that in addition to being beautiful, they were also strong!

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About a decade ago, I took my then teenage daughter into NYC to see a doctor who worked exclusively with dancers. At some point in the conversation, he commented that daughter had nice arches and wouldn't need to ever use an arch enhancer. I remember being totally floored that dancers actually wore them! He said that I'd then be surprised at how many dancers at both NYCB and ABT used them. It makes me sad somehow.

I wish musicality would be the Next New Thing -- I guess I'm an old fogey.
Sigh... Vipa, I so heartily agree. That, and epaulement.

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Just wanted to say that I found this picture of Osipova where the arch enhancers are VERY visible:

http://bolshoi.ru/common//img/uploaded/pla...a-jump-3-bg.jpg

When canbelto started this thread he asked two questions, “What do people think of arch enhancers?” and “Are these becoming more and more common among professional dancers?”

I first became aware of “arch enhancers” about 12 years ago when in a UPS shop in London where I was waiting to send a package, the person in front of me, a cash customer, was asked to open his package and lo and behold it contained “arch enhancers” and we got into a conversation and he explained he manufactured them and was sending them to a high profile dancer in Europe.

It is interesting that a high arched foot is not only aesthetically pleasing in a ballet dancer it is a requirement (in degrees) for the aesthetic an academic classical ballet dancer.

To a doctor looking at some dancer’s feet, he would possibly see it as a pathological condition or a deformity known Pes Cavus which literally translates as claw foot. If you read medical papers the condition is something to be treated even operated upon. However Orthopaedic practitioners who have some experience of dancer’s feet or knowledge of the aesthetic would not be do concerned.

When you have seen on stage the aesthetically exquisite movement and shapes created by the great dancer Alla Sizova’s feet, nothing less really counts. But lets takes us back to the real world, there is nothing wrong with a reasonably arched foot if everything else required to become an academic dancer is in place. Anna Pavlova had an incredibly high arch, Dame Margot Fonteyn did not, but it did not detract from her performances as the whole body moved with grace combined with a flowing, interpretative line.

The idea of arch enhancers goes beyond the reasonably blocked toe show for me and shows something incomplete in dancers that use them. I have go back to the exquisitely expressed statement of Paul Parish, "A high instep makes for thrilling geometry, especially when the knee is bent, in coupes or passes."

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I read this thread and can't help but think not of enhancers of arches, but of the enhancers in the bodices of many of the Mariinsky's costumes. It looks so strange to see the women's arms move or back stretch, while their curves don't, as flesh would. I find it mildly distracting.

I don't understand the perceived need to make the dancers appear more womanly. In classical ballets (which is where they pad the costumes), the women are by definition the idealized feminine.

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I read this thread and can't help but think not of enhancers of arches, but of the enhancers in the bodices of many of the Mariinsky's costumes. It looks so strange to see the women's arms move or back stretch, while their curves don't, as flesh would. I find it mildly distracting.

Yes! I've seen this same phenomenom with some actresses in their red carpet dresses, specially during certain poses while wearing some strappless numbers with stiff underwire mechanisms in the bodice. They kind of retrieve back the torso, with arms leaning on the hips and shoulders pointing forward. The result is that the upper part of the dress doesn't keep attached to the skin...weird, uh...? :)

The effect is something like this...

http://gracemagazine.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/carrie1.jpg

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Rather than blame the dancers who use arch enhancers, blame the artistic directors who insist on the high instep and the audience members who discuss "feet." Everyone from Sarah Lamb to Irina Dvorovenko uses them, and it is not because they lack artistic ability or technique. And, yes, those two wonderful dancers definitely enhance their arches. For me, it is a shame that by today's "body" standards, it is possible that some of the great artistic dancers such as Plisetskaya or Fonteyn might not have had a chance to be hired into a major company unless they enhanced their arches. And it is hard to know who we are never going to see because of the new standards.

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It may be designed for that, but any dancer can do it as well and better using her/his own hands. Gadgetation, I calls it.

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Not that it matters, but I agree with Miami.

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“The Pro-Arch® is a device designed to increase the flexibility and strength of the ankle and toes, achieving the best possible arched foot”

http://www.kaboodle.com/hi/img/c/0/0/c/d/A...AAAAAAAzaog.jpg

That thing looks like some kind of medieval torture machine: "Tell us the enemy's plans, you dastardly villain, or we'll put you in the Pro-Arch® (now available at fine dance suppliers from Lotharingia to Wessex. Local Danegeld may apply.)!!!

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“The Pro-Arch® is a device designed to increase the flexibility and strength of the ankle and toes, achieving the best possible arched foot”

http://www.kaboodle.com/hi/img/c/0/0/c/d/A...AAAAAAAzaog.jpg

That thing looks like some kind of medieval torture machine: "Tell us the enemy's plans, you dastardly villain, or we'll put you in the Pro-Arch® (now available at fine dance suppliers from Lotharingia to Wessex. Local Danegeld may apply.)!!!

:helpsmilie:

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