Why Does Yuja Wang Wear High Heels?
The pianist does not only wear high heels for fashion reasons.
When Chinese pianist Yuja Wang performs, there are usually two themes in the intermission conversations: First, her breathtaking virtuosity. And secondly, her breathtaking wardrobe.
Her shoes, in particular, always raise eyebrows: is it even possible to play the piano in such high heels? Even if it is obvious that Yuja Wang can – the accusation that she is literally aiming too high with her "fashionably questionable foot appendages" (NZZ am Sonntag) has accompanied her entire career.
Yet Yuja Wang's stilts are not only about fashion, but also about anatomical questions. One only has to observe how she sits at the piano: back, pelvis, arms, thighs – everything is in perfect balance. Her posture allows her maximum freedom of movement, maximum elegance too. As difficult as the works she plays are: she seems to master them with remarkable ease.
158 cm plus heel
That is not self-evident. A grand piano is a grand piano, there are standard sizes – and they are a challenge for pianists who do not have a standard size. You can see it with the particularly tall performers, who often sit quite hunched over behind the keys. Yuja Wang, on the other hand, is shorter than average at 1.58 m, and with flat shoes (in which she is quite often found off the podium) she would have exactly two options:
Either she would have to give up her ideal posture – or she would not be able to bring her heels to the floor.
The heels now provide her with exactly the few centimetres of height she needs to play. At the same time, they shape her pedalling technique: those who operate the pedal from below with flat shoes and thus from a foot-flex position, so to speak, experience completely different strains on muscles and tendons than Yuja Wang, who presses the pedal from above with an extended foot. Both variants have advantages and disadvantages – and female pianists have the option of choosing the one that suits them better (while male pianists solve any problems with a board under the heel of their flat shoes).
That Yuja Wang then chooses not only high heels, but also likes to wear particularly narrow, brightly coloured, shiny heels: That's another topic.
Translated with DeepL.com