CriticalDance Forum

Beginner needing help with plies:)
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Author:  Skaltervox [ Fri Oct 20, 2006 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Beginner needing help with plies:)

Salut! I am 25 and I have just started ballet :oops: . I have always had an immense passion for dance. Unfortunatly my parents never had the opportunity to put me into any sort of dance classes as a child, so I have never recieved any formal dance instruction. For all of these years I have harboured that love of dance. I have for many years found pleasure in just dancing around the house, when no one is looking,... forever that little girl who dreams of being a ballerina. Well, this year I decided that it is never too late to start. I have no dellusions, I know that I will never dance on a stage go en pointe, or anything like that, I just want to dance for myself, my heart. Well, I seem to have a natural aptitude for dance, and I recieve many praises from my darling teacher. However, the bain of my practice seems to be my plies, specifically in first and third position. I have no trouble in any other position, and all of my other exercises are fine, its just those darn petite plies in first and third. I can not go down very far at all. I have well muscled legs (I have for many years been practicing yoga, and I cycle and run alot), but I think the muscles may just be built up too chunky, and not lean. Any suggestions on how I can work on loosening up and deepening those plies? I am not sure which muscles are impeding my progress, as my calf muscles are pretty flexible from yoga. If anyone has any pointers, I would be greatly appreciative. Thanks, merci! :P

Author:  strangegirl [ Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:47 pm ]
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First off, I am so happy that you decided to start classes, just to satisfy yourself! That is wonderful.

Realize that ballet is the least natural of dance forms that I can think of in terms of what you are trying to make your body do. It is very harmful for your body, actually. Unless you start really young, there is no way (at least in my opinion) that you can really force your body to turn out and attain the positions in ballet. Starting young gives you a chance to mold your body into doing those things more automatically (it still isn't doing your joints any favors, though). I am not saying this to discourage you.

For deep plies, you need stretchy achilles tendons and good hip flexion. Try to think of sending your knees out to the side over your toes (DON'T force your turnout, this can cause your knees to roll forward), instead of thinking "down." This way, even if you can't go down far, you will at least be getting the nice, gooey, stretchy quality of a good plie. Of course, a good plie will help with jumps and stabilization in all kinds of movements.

BTW, I know you said you had dreamed of being a ballerina, but have you ever considered other, more "body friendly" types of dance, like modern? At 32, it hurts my body like h**l to take ballet now, but I find modern satisfying. Just a thought. Keep it up!!! :)

Author:  Skaltervox [ Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:32 am ]
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Thanks very much for your kind advice! I will try this next practice My hips seem to be open (I practice yoga, which focuses a lot on opening the hips), so it must be my achilles impeding me. Either way, thanks very much. I am also studying middle eastern dance right now. I belong to a Iranian dance troupe in Montreal, and I adore it. It gives me the beauty and flow, without the heavy discipline. Having said that, my instuctor singled me out for the trouple because she could see that I had some sort of formal ballet discipline behind me. She herself has many many years of ballet under her belt, which she firmly believes helps with any form of dance, inculding her forte, Middle Eastern. The school I study ballet at (Ballet Divertimento) also offers other forms of dance, and I am very interested in modern. I have friends who dance modern, and I have always found it intriquing Maybe in the new year I will try out the modern or the AfroJazz. So, ultimately, I find that there is not enough time in the day to study every dance that I would like to. If I could go to a school, and make dance my life's study, that would be a dream come true...but alas, I just dance between life, and love every aching minute of it :) Thanks again for your reply! :D

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:30 am ]
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I'm going to move this over to our student's forum where it will get attention from our teacher-moderators who may be able to provide some more helpful hints.


Author:  Skaltervox [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:10 am ]
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Thanks! I tried to post it in the student section, but my browser kept saying that it was currently unavailable, so I posted anyway. :wink:

Author:  Gina Ness [ Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:26 am ]
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Hello, Skaltervox, and glad you found us! Like strangegirl said, having your knees over your toes (your 2nd and 3rd toes) is very important. Also, make certain that the outside edge of the bottom of your foot is making contact with the floor and your arch is lifted (no "rolling in"). Plies are a movement to "go into" and "move out of". You have to think of them as being very fluid. You time your plies with the music. Try not to "sit" in your plie. It's also very important in ballet, when jumping, to really use and "go through" your feet. This will help with the timing of the plie before and after your jump which will enable you to jump in time with the music. Hope this helps...And, happy dancing!

Author:  Beth Kurtz [ Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:33 am ]
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Skaltervox, go with what Gina said. And in addition, make sure you're not tensing up your ankles as you go into the plie. Get them to do a deep relaxation at the very bottom, then collect them again on the way up.

And don't think that ballet is necessarily unnatural or painful. Good ballet training should help you avoid pain and extend the body's natural capabilities. One clue is to eliminate the tensions that get in your way.

Author:  Skaltervox [ Thu Nov 23, 2006 3:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks very much everyone for your replies and suggestions. I have been working very hard, and I have successfully deepened my plies! I have noticed that I am advancing in my ballet studies rapidly, and I feel very confident that I will continue to grow and become a great dancer. Thanks again everyone for your support and kind works! :D

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