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Arch enhancers


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#16 Memo

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:11 AM

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.

#17 canbelto

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:35 AM

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.

#18 Hans

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 02:42 PM

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

#19 Helene

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 07:09 PM

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.

#20 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:17 PM

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."

#21 bart

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:48 AM

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"?

#22 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:08 AM

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.

#23 robinmc

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:43 AM

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.

#24 MCBallet

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 10:52 PM

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.

#25 Memo

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 11:10 PM

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.

#26 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 03:47 AM

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!

#27 dirac

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 02:26 PM

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.

#28 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 03:32 PM

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.

#29 Krystin

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 01:54 PM

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.

#30 Paul Parish

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 12:07 AM

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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