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I must have the shortest tendons on this planet. I even spoke with my mother about it and she said when I started walking, I did so on my toes, and never put my heels down (big clue here), then, as soon as possible (around the age of 16) I started wearing heels, and have not stopped. All of this has created very, very short tendons, which in turn disallows me to do a very deep demi-plié. In fact, my teacher is correcting me so often that I sometimes feel as though one of the other women in the class is going to start shouting at the teacher "okay, deeper plié, she knows, shes doing the deepest plié she can, she's working on it" (as in the scene in "Center Stage" where the student shouts at the teacher about the other student's turn-out). Anyway, all of this is becoming very frustrating. I work constantly on stretching my tendons, morning and night, but I don't seem to be getting very far with this. Does anyone have any good ideas as how to get a deeper demi-plié? Thank you!

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To be honest I think a good demi-plié doesn't neccassarily mean deeper. You can go too deep. My teacher is always reminding me 'not too deep Jeanette', that's my main problem.


Lots of feet and ankle exercises will help loosen up your tight tendons. I wouldn't force a deep plié otherwise you could risk damaging yourself later on, and it is really easy to do regarding those tendons and especially the achilles.


Hamstring stretches will loosen up the back of your legs and also bending your legs while in a hamstring stretch and bringing the torso up to a level where your back is parallel to the ground and your arm is in 5th is great for stretching gently.


Floor barre may be benefical to you or everyone for that matter, you can practice demi-plié on the floor.


I am sure there will be much better advice from the professionals!


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as soon as possible (around the age of 16) I

started wearing heels, and have not stopped.


You may want to give up the heels!:)

I know, I know, a very hard addiction to give up...

and will feel very weird at first... but it may help!

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There are tons of different stretches you can do for your soleus and calf muscles that will also stretch your Achilles tendon. They can be found in any book on stretching.


Personally, I would just change my thinking about demi plies for a while. Think of them as a lower leg stretching exercise where you are going as low as you can without lifting your heels from the floor. You should feel a good stretch in the soleus. And if I could only descend a little way in plie, I might do say 20-30 demis a day just as a stretching exercise.


I would also make a lifestyle change. No wearing shoes in the house. Check them at the front door and wear only slippers, socks, or bare feet inside. Very Japanese. Keeps the house cleaner too.

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I agree - ditch the shoes!!:( And make sure when you switch to a lower heel that you get something with good arch supports, since lack of support in the arch can put stress on the achilles (been there - ouch!) One simple stretch to try if you haven't already - do a traditional calf stretch, one leg forward, one back, legs parallel, pushing the back foot into the floor while pushing hards forward against a wall or barre - now bend the back leg at the knee and you get a really good achilles stretch.


Have you spoken with your teacher about your difficulty with demi-plié? You don't say what the corrections are like right now, but maybe discussing it with her or him will help them find a better way to help you, i.e. -- "try doing X or Y " rather than just "use your demi-plié."

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I would not neccessarily say give up your heels, afterall didn't ladies only ever wear high heels at one point? If you really want to give up high heels then fine, but as Garyecht suggested, wearing nothing around the house will benefit you a lot. If you are going to continue and wear heels, then you have to make sure that you do calf stretches daily, morning and evening and whenever you can during the day, even sitting at your desk, you can do simple calf stretches and no one would know.

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Thank you all for your replies. I guess I should clarify a few things. First, about the heels. I do wear heels, but, since I live in New England (with our lovely 6 months of snow), these are only worn when firmly ensconced at my office. If I wore them outside I would most likely injure myself. My typical foot gear at home and outside (from October until April) is Uggs, which I dearly love. What I meant to imply is that I wear heels as often as possible. I am vertically challenged and these help in many ways. I do many of the stretches recommended, but the floor barre is a great idea. Does anyone know of any good resources for floor barre. There are no classes in this that are given at a time when I can attend. So a video or book showing different floor barre positions would be wonderful. I would also like to ask anyone if you find knee issues related to shallow demis? I don't think this is logical, but it seems that if I put my heels down too soon on the up part of a grand plié, my knees start to hurt. I am careful to keep my knees over my toes, but in order to keep the knees from going too far over my toes, I have to push my hips back and then I get the instruction to "tuck hips"... "the wheels going round and round..."


Thank you all again for your replies!

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Is there any possibility to briefly ask your teacher for a few minutes of their time before/after class? Perhaps you can ask them to place your body into what they consider to be the alignment they would like you to have while doing class. This may help in 2 ways: 1) it will help that muscle memory to kick in so it will be easier to remember the feeling of having the placement desired by the teacher, 2) if your teacher's idea of correct placement causes you pain you can let them know and perhaps the two of you can then work to find an alternate yet acceptable way of movement.

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One alternative to the knee pain is to stop doing grand plié in any position except second. Just do a slower demi when they do grand. Just from your use of the words "tuck hips" I would have to question whether you are being taught correct alignment. If that is the case, then grand plié could be dangerous for you. They are not absolutely essential and if not done correctly can certainly cause damage to the knees, especially those done in 4th position. Amazingly enough, one can live as a dancer and not do grand pliés in 4th, or even 1st and 5th! ;)

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Yep, I am one of those that Ms Leigh describes. I do not do grand pliés in any position except second and occaisonally fifth as I have a knee problem. Eliminating them from my class has made me able to actually progress and dance the entire class without any pain, during or after.:D :D

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