The plié is a French ballet term which means to bend the knees. The plié is an important basic step for all dance forms. It is not only essential to a good ballet practice but is instrumental in the foundation for dance in Hula, Belly Dance, Latin dances, and Hip Hop. You do not have to do ballet or be a primadonna to execute a good plié. I do recommend learning the ballet plié because you will avoid unnecessary shin stress and learn proper body alignment which you can then transfer to any other dance form.
Try practicing the demi-plié (bending the knees with the knees extending past the big toe halfway down) in each of these positions:
- First – Feet together either in parallel or turned-out. This means the heels are together. If you are in parallel position the toes are also touching and the hips feel “turned-in.” Turned-out position includes the heels touching and toes pointed outwardly. If you are not flexible in the hips, the feet take the shape of a V. If you are very flexible, the toes are in one straight line with the heels as the heels touch. Do not force this position!
- Second – Your heels are in the same line of each other only they are hip-width apart or slightly further.
- Third – From the first position slide your toe on the floor tracing out the V that the feet have formed. Then slide your foot back towards your standing foot but place the heel of the foot in front of the arch of the other foot.
- Fourth – From the fifth position (see next) slide your toe forward lifting the heel up as far forward as you can. Then stand on both feet evenly with the toes turned out.
- Fifth – This is just like third except you are going to bring the heel to touch the opposite foot’s heel and stand evenly on both feet.
Practice demi-plié until you feel strong doing them without overstraining your back. Then move on to full ballet plié when mastered. Always stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps since you are working those major leg muscles a lot. If you have a good plié, you will see the overall effect in your dance practice.