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Help for Plie (And Assemble)


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I have a very weak plie. I don't know if that's possible in ballet, but my plie is very stiff, very uncomfortable, and extremely weak. I hate doing jumps in class because of it, and my new class spends a lot of time on assemble....which has been the bane of my existence since I started ballet. (It's also affecting my glissade, and essentially everything else.)


Any suggestions? My teacher is having me work on "diamonds" whenever I jump, but again, I feel like it's all my plie. I just don't know what to do.

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"stiff, uncomfortable, and extremely weak"


Are you in a beginner's class? First of all, I wouldn't be having anyone do jumps in the center without having learned a nice cushy plié, at least, not in a rotated, turned out position. So my first suggestion would be to have you take at least one beginner class per week to slow things down a bit until your plié has improved.


Let's try to figure out why your plié is weak:

1. Calf stretch- Can you hold onto the barre facing it, and starting with your feet in 6th position, slide one foot straight back about 2 feet and leave the heel on the floor? If you can't, your calves may be tight or your achilles tendon may be particularly short.


2. With your feet still in 6th position, can you do a slow controlled demi plié? And how does it feel?


3. Have you met your rotators yet?


4. How is your alignment? Been paying attention to the Sticky at the top of the forum? :)

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When you land from a jump, make sure that you release the front of the ankle and over the instep so that you can get as deep a demi-plié as you can. A lot of students grip their feet, which causes all sorts of other problems, too. Make sure you do the same thing when the demi-plié is the first movement of a step, too.

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To be honest, I started dance extremely late(age 19), and unfortunately, although I loved my old studio for being nice to me, they didn't exactly "Break it down"....so I'm only just beginning to learn proper turn out, and the like. I asked my new instructor about a beginning class, and she said I would be bored, and wouldn't learn much...it was better for me to remain in intermediate, and just "fix" as I go along.


I just don't feel comfortable in plie....although I guess I'm stretched out "okay". (I tried your exercises, Clara....I could do them, but I could definately feel a stretch). How do I meet my rotators? (I'monly just now at a school where they use a syllabus and have tests, so I'm not good with terminology yet) Maybe I just need to strengthen it?


Mel, what does gripping the feet feel like? I'm not sure I understand.

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It's a feeling of tension over the top of the instep and through the ankle, and a little ways up the shin. Really bad gripping results in the clenched foot, which looks like you're trying to pick up a ball with the foot. Interesting at parties, not very useful otherwise.

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So it sounds like your issue may be one of rotation.


Turn-out thread


Check out my post at the end of that thread for some "Hello, Rotators. Meet irishprincess!" exercises.


Now, locating the required muscles is a portion of the battle. Next you must engage them to control your turnout.


Back to plié-

Using all the muscles that you've met, being sure to be in proper alignment with the ribcage lifted off, rotate your legs to first position. Now, slowly begin to bend the knees, but as you do, picture a wall that your back is up against, and even as your knees are bending (being sure you are releasing through the ankles as Major Mel said), feel energy growing up out of the top of your head, and keep your back up against that 'wall'.


Begin to straighten knees in the same fashion, rotate, rotate, rotate as you rise so that you will end in that loveley position that you started in.


Now you'll understand why Susanne Farrell said that the plié is the first thing you learn, and the last thing you'll master, or something like that!


Once your plié feels gracious, you'll find other things have to be thought through at first with the same kind of concentration, but eventually, things will come together!! :wub:

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Irishprincess - besides the demi plie (which is also the bane of my existence - but more from wearing too many high heeled shoes than anything else), what is the problem you're having with the assemble? I was taught the assemble from a teacher that had a wonderful way with words - he said to remember the assemble is brush jump land - does this help? Oh - and make sure you land in a deep demi plie! :)

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