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"heels touching" in fifth position grand plie??


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This year was the first time I've heard teachers - two of them at two different schools - say "make sure your heels are touching when you do grand plie in fifth position." I've been dancing for over 30 years, in three different countries, different places in these different countries, and never heard this before last month - either as a direction or a correction.


To me, this equates with "rolling in", which I've had trained OUT of me in all these years. I was taught to make sure that all five toes were on the floor. In order to get my heels to touch, I have to roll onto my big toe - only about the first three toes actually touch the floor.


The explanation given when I asked was that it related to muscle development in the thigh - prevented the thigh from being bulky because you use more of the underside.


I'm worried about the strain on the ankles. I've been trying to do what I've been told, at least for now, to test this. I feel like my knees are moving forward, out of a turnout, although I consciously try not to do this using the "heels touching" request, and I've been told my knees are not actually rolling forward. It feels very weird. My ankles aren't protesting too badly about the change, but they are getting sore obviously in areas not used to this way of doing fifth position grand plie. The only thing I can see in it is that it doesn't allow sickling, but doesn't it put strain on the inside of the ankle?


Can anyone please tell me where this "heels touching" comes in, how to make sure I'm doing it without actually rolling in, if it's accurate, and what the theory is behind this, if it's accurate?

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The heels should be able to touch at the bottom of a grand plié in fifth position, BUT, if they can't do it without some kind of rolling or distortion, then it should not be done. If there is not enough rotation for that to happen and maintain correct alignment and position of the feet, then it needs to be adjusted to what is possible for that student.

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That's what I thought. I don't want to do myself any (further!!) injury by doing something my body isn't able to do.


I'll speak to my main class teacher about it this week.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have heard this correction before too, but my teacher was going from the angle that the feet should still be aligned (i.e. neither rolling onto the big toe on the back foot nor sickling the front foot), but that we increase the turnout from the thighs and strive to have them touching at the depth of the grand plié (although they may not physically happen). Would that be what was intended?


Fish :D

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I'm pretty sure that's what was meant. But I don't have that level of perfection. As it is, doing it those few times put a strain on the inner ankle so now I'm having a bit of trouble again, after having healed well from the impingement earlier this year. *sigh*

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We get this direction all the time, every time we do grand plies in fifth. In our class, a class with more "older mature" dancers than young dancers, it's more a direction towards what to aim for, and it's a direction that, when I personally hear it, encourages me to work my turnout more. I'd say, use it as something to aim for, not something that has to be there. Does that make sense?

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I'm Hyperextended, my heels never touch, except in breezay.

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Brisé :D


hope your heels aren't hitting each other! ouch!

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I can aim for it, of course. The only issue is the strain on the tendons/ligaments on the inside of the ankle. I don't want to be put out of action by trying something that is anatomically impossible for me. :D

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If you aim for this, it ought to be your hips that you are stretching, not your ankles! If a person with excellent turnout does a grand plié in 5th position, the heels will generally touch. What you should strive for in grand plié is to increase your rotation, not to alter the placement of your feet and ankles. Another impediment to this is if your knees or ankles do not allow you to descend in the plié sufficiently for the heels to meet, and in that case I think trying to do it is pointless.

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I don't want to be put out of action by trying something that is anatomically impossible for me.
Perhaps this is why you have not heard this direction before? One thing I do have is relatively good turnout (good turnout for an older dancer who was never close to being a professional). I don't have any strain on my ankles when trying to achieve this. Perhaps you had really good teachers who realized it was not in your best interest to hear this direction - so you didn't? I would suggest you work with your teacher, in one of your private classes, and ask his/her opinion of this. If it's not in your best interest, then just sing "la, la, la, la, la" when the teacher is saying this in class! But do sing quietly :angry::)
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LOL! Thanks. That's what I plan to do. My regular teacher actually stopped giving me this direction when she saw for herself that I had to roll in to do it. Since she knows I've been working on turnout on my own, she's left me alone about this part.


We have our first private of the summer on Friday. I provided her with a list of things I'd like to try to be able to do by the time Dance Camp rolls around. :angry:

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