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Can you enlighten me as to

what ‘arch enhancers’ are?

Are they the rather gothic horror wooden stretch contraptions that look like they belong in a medieval dungeon that I presume are to over time using force the bones & foot to stretch beyond its natural position?

Or are they the silicon ‘cheat feet’ (like bust enhancing ‘chicken fillets’ but arch shapes strapped on top of feet) I’ve seen advertised & rather suspect I may have seen on stage worn by pros who should know better....& their bosses certainly should ban this practise. A stretched foot is all part of that beautiful classical line. Personally I find this ‘fad’ for ‘banana feet’ breaks & distorts this line. All about freak effect not natural beauty. 
So many young dancers are influenced by what they see on stage, in class, on social media... they try to emulate their peers or favourite dancers. If these are appearing to have these exaggerated arched feet, they strive for these too....which can lead to taking risks with developing young bodies. Please please can this horrid fashion be reversed. I’d like dancers faking it to be named & shamed & for dance companies & training establishments to ban the wearing of fake arches & ban the use of dangerous stretching contraptions. 
To add to my criticism (sorry folks) is point out how differentiation is being lost. Yes, the occasional dancer has ‘amazing bendy feet’ - that’s their ‘thing’. Another’s might be their amazing emotional engagement of lyrical arm movements....but fake feet lead to ‘sameism’ & a loss of unique individuality. It’s as bad as the extreme plumped up Lips & now the same as the next girl too full too perfect looking hair created with fake extensions - all copied from so many ‘reality tv celebs’ & all leading to loss of individuality & boy is it boring to look at. Dancers, value your individuality, work to be the best you using what you naturally have; your own personal best attributes & talents will then shine through & be enjoyed by your audience.
 

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Yes, it's the "cheat feet", as you put it, that are being discussed.  EDIT: or actually, is it?  I thought so, but it could be those stretching devices, too.

 

With regard to your last point, I quite agree - it doesn't help when you're aware that dancers, even (especially?) high-profile ones, have succumbed to various cosmetic procedures.  I like the little imperfections - it adds character, and individuality.

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I quite agree with Peanut.

Foot strength and mobility can be improved with active exercises and there are specific arch exercises. 

Active foot exercises using your own body weight and, where appropriate, a theraband, under the supervision of a teacher or physio seems a far safer and more sensible approach than the use of any stretching device. Aside from the worrying risk of injury from actually using the device surely if an increase in foot flexibility is not accompanied by improved strength there is an ongoing risk of injury? 

I've no dance experience it's true, but I've got quite a lot of professional knowledge of anatomy and physiology plus an unfortunate amount of personal experience of foot injury. As a result, I personally wouldn't want to see my DD doing anything than steady, controlled exercises in an attempt to "improve" her feet, or any other part of her body come to that.

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Pups_mum is right, overstretching of feet (and other parts of the body) can lead to injury. Is this why there do seem to be a lot of injuries these days - or is that a false perception? Banana feet need to be controlled in the same way as swayback knees, i.e. not pushing into the maximum extension when weight bearing, but using strength to maintain the correct line.

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7 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

Can you enlighten me as to

what ‘arch enhancers’ are?

Are they the rather gothic horror wooden stretch contraptions that look like they belong in a medieval dungeon that I presume are to over time using force the bones & foot to stretch beyond its natural position?

Or are they the silicon ‘cheat feet’ (like bust enhancing ‘chicken fillets’ but arch shapes strapped on top of feet) I’ve seen advertised & rather suspect I may have seen on stage worn by pros who should know better....& their bosses certainly should ban this practise. A stretched foot is all part of that beautiful classical line. Personally I find this ‘fad’ for ‘banana feet’ breaks & distorts this line. All about freak effect not natural beauty. 
So many young dancers are influenced by what they see on stage, in class, on social media... they try to emulate their peers or favourite dancers. If these are appearing to have these exaggerated arched feet, they strive for these too....which can lead to taking risks with developing young bodies. Please please can this horrid fashion be reversed. I’d like dancers faking it to be named & shamed & for dance companies & training establishments to ban the wearing of fake arches & ban the use of dangerous stretching contraptions. 
To add to my criticism (sorry folks) is point out how differentiation is being lost. Yes, the occasional dancer has ‘amazing bendy feet’ - that’s their ‘thing’. Another’s might be their amazing emotional engagement of lyrical arm movements....but fake feet lead to ‘sameism’ & a loss of unique individuality. It’s as bad as the extreme plumped up Lips & now the same as the next girl too full too perfect looking hair created with fake extensions - all copied from so many ‘reality tv celebs’ & all leading to loss of individuality & boy is it boring to look at. Dancers, value your individuality, work to be the best you using what you naturally have; your own personal best attributes & talents will then shine through & be enjoyed by your audience.
 


Its the “chicken fillets” in your tights type of enhancers that I was referring too. After DDs years of vocational training I’ve never come across them in school til now. Are they widely used in companies and allowed in auditions ?

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Seems to me, it's pretty clear from this thread that neither version of arch "enhancer" has a place in ballet! 

 

Apart from anything else, I'd be worried that the "chicken fillet" version of enhancer would slip or otherwise indicate its presence.

 

On the 19th century stage, it was not unheard of for male performers to pad the calves of their tights, and for women to pad their thighs and buttocks, but tights then were knitted cotton or wool, so much more solid anyway. And more performers, not just dancers,  wore tights - men especially, in tragic roles.

Edited by Kate_N
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I don't really know what my opinion is, but I stumbled across this from Sander Blommaert, former first artist of the Royal Ballet, which might be of interest. He seems to agree that if professionals with nice feet wear fake arches, it sets the bar even higher for students aspiring to be professional, and may make students without great feet think they don't have a chance. However, he thinks beautiful dancers with feet that aren't 'aesthetically pleasing' should be able to wear fake arches. I think that could potentially open up a whole other kettle of fish to decide "what is an aesthetically pleasing foot" but there you go...

 

 

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I don’t think it’s new and quite a few of the pros appear to wear them? I remember Gelsey Kirkland describing attempting to make the top of her foot swollen to enhance the instep. Didn’t she end up having surgery?  I can’t blame dancers for wearing them when such an inordinate amount of time is spent on praising nice feet!

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My daughter was advised to wear them by her ballet teacher to eisteddfods (competitions). She had a very flat instep (narrow, bony feet) which didn't have the right look, even though she was a beautiful dancer and had lovely artistry and technique. She did so many exercises and her feet were strong, but nothing she did would make them look good. Funnily enough, after she started doing full time vocational dance her feet did finally improve. It really was a handicap for her for a while there.

 

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Yes, safe professional training with experts does often lead to ‘improved’ feet; I think it’s the combination of added strength of all muscles  & improved & ingrained technique. ‘Pulled up’ non rolling of instep massively helps with both these elements IMO. 

Its so sad that ‘we audience’ have become so prescriptive as to our likes & what we applaud as it were that dancers feel they have to all become identikit replicas..... & fake it to make it. ENOUGH!!! 

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