Plié (French – “to bend”; pronounced “plee-ay”) is one of the foundational movements in ballet technique. A great majority of ballet steps begin and/or end with a plié, which means that a dancer bends at the knees. Ballet classes most often begin with a plié combination to warm up the legs and stretch out the leg muscles, and jumps end in plié rather than straight legs to prevent strain on the legs, protect the knees, and maintain balance when landing.
Plié can be done in multiple different positions and on one or both legs.
Begin in first position with straight legs. Bend the legs slowly, with the knees going out over the toes and leaving the heels on the ground. Slowly straighten the legs again. This is an example of a demi (half) plié. A grand (full) plié is done exactly the same, except the dancer bends even further, allowing the heels to come up off of the ground at the lowest point. VIDEO and PHOTOS coming soon.
Tips for performing a technically correct and safe plié:
– Make sure to always keep the knees over the toes to protect the knees and prevent injury. When done correctly, you should be able to “draw” and invisible line from middle of the foot (second/third toe) straight up to the center of the kneecap.
– Be cautious not to roll in towards the inside of the foot/arch or to roll out towards the back of the foot/arch. Rolling to one side of the foot or the other can put a strain on the foot muscles, as well as cause knee pain and/or injury. The foot should always be as flat as on the floor as possible when standing and while in plié. To learn more about how to prevent rolling in/out, please read this page.
– When performing grand plié, be careful not to “sit” in your plié. This means that you have allowed yourself to relax too much into the movement rather than continuing to engage the leg muscles.
– Keep the back up and make sure that the head, hips, and heels remain in the same invisible straight line up and down. An effective way to visualize the correct positioning for a plié is to imagine two walls, both in front and back of you, which do not allow you to lean either forward or backward. The dancer should move up and down this line seamlessly as if on an elevator.
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