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Short plie?? Huh?


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I'm not sure if this is the right group for this topic...but it's a start. Dd got her mid-year evaluations, and one teacher commented that she has a "short plie" and this (from her comments) appears to be some sort of anatomical thing (as in it's something you've "got", and need to learn to work w/it). According to the report a short plie = more difficult to jump (and dd has struggled w/getting height in her jumping). Any wisdom as to the definition of "short plie" and how to work w/it? (The recommendations from this teacher were pretty much "keep on doing what you've been doing...".) Dd is one of those pretty durn flexible kids, she's tall and long and appears to be finally settling down from a lot of growth. Is this something that will even itself out as growth stabilizes, or something she'll have to continue to work on...and if so, how?

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Some dancers do have shorter, or tighter, demi pliés, msd. It is often the case with the long and flexible people, and one of the reasons they do not have the same kind of natural jump that some others do. However, it can be developed by learning how to USE what they have very well and very correctly. They need to understand the principals of jumping, the theory of rebound, and to make sure that they put their heels down but don't drop any of their energy into the plié. They need to develop stronger calf muscles, which can be done with a bit of dilegence and perhaps some help from a Pilates Instructor. B)

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Sounds like your DD has a what mine has: "a sad little plie'" B) (as described by one of her home teachers ) Apparently, DD has a short achilles. She is on the taller side and pretty flexible, but not nothing near a gumby.


But, although her plie' is rather shallow and 'sad' ( B) ), she has become a very good jumper! So, it can be worked around.

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DD has a shallow plie as well, but is not long, has very long legs, but is on the shorter side, more of a compact powerhouse kind of dancer, alot of muscle strenth, definitely more of a turner than a jumper. she is working on deepening her plie while keeping her heels donw. she does calf stretches and has just begun Pilates 3-4 weeks ago at the advice of one of her teachers. Interestingly, her teachers say it doesn't affect her dancing. It seems that every dancer, no matter how gifted, has an issue they must work on throughout their career, and some dancers, and Dd is one of them, although very flexible, and somewhat hyperextended, has a short achilles. Also, DD is 12, and has grown abit, and I understand that tendosn and ligaments need to lenghten and catch up with bone growth. Also, Balanchine training according to DD's pilates instuctor can also contribute to this, so need to keep calves loose and stretched.

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Pilates and physical therapy can help a short achilles/shallow plie problem. Also correct placement of the body on the feet is another road to success. Many students grip their legs and feet in demi-plie rather than release the thighs, various parts of the buttocks and back of thighs connecting the leg to the pelvis. Also not releasing, where the ankle connects into the shin bones will inhibit flexibility in this area. It is very complex and requires a lot of physical work by the student and the teacher a like. Lack of fluidity of plie can be a common issue when more focus is placed on the turn out of the legs and feet rather than the whole picture of movement.


Since you seem to be discussing the issue is related to jumping, there may be a coordination issue or a mechanical issue that is inhibiting your DC to plie smoothly before the take off and landing of a jump. It is not a difficult concept to change, but it is difficult to actually make the changes physically in the student. The student must understand the concept, see and feel (generally in that order over a long period of time) that the head leads the body into the sky. Lifting the heel without rising the body into the air can be the equivalent of gunning the engine of a car but not going anywhere. The change begins with correcting plie/releve at the barre then in the centre and then from simple two legged jumps to one legged jumps. It is like starting all over again, for the student and the teacher alike. It can be done, in most cases, if there is a real commitment on the part of all involved. For the non-dancing parents, you might want to liken it to learning how to write in script clearly. Think of how often one has to repeat the same mechanics over and over to make the writing legible. It is similar in the study of ballet. If our mechanic is incorrect in writing the letters, although people may get the gist of what is written in script, often words may look mispelled and do leave an impression in someway.


As for learning to jump with a shallow plie, yes, dancers do it all the time, but some ADs just do not like the way it looks and others do. For the long term health of your DC, it will always be better to put the heels down on the floor when jumping and dancing with pointe shoes on the feet.

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