Keeping your back straight and being conscious of leaning too far forward or back will also improve your pliés. It’s great to use your upper body and head for épaulement to highlight the movement but avoid moving the entire top half of your body forwards or backwards. This will throw you off your centre and alter the shape of the plié. Having a strong core will also help you keep your posture and alignment correct in pliés, allowing you to feel centred and grounded.
We also need to be mindful of when you lift our heels off the ground in a grand plié. Ideally we want the achilles tendon to reach maximum stretch before we lift the heels off the floor. Don’t let your heels lift until the last possible second. When rising up from the grand plié, touch the heels down as soon as possible before you completely stretch your legs. It can be challenging initially but will gradually ease with practice. Tight calves can reduce the depth of your plié so ensure you stretch before and after class to keep them as flexible as you can.
Imagery often helps with a dancers mind-body connection and improvement of technique. Like we spoke of the honey before, having a visual reference to imagine can improve the execution of a step or sequence of steps. Eric Franklin, author of the book ‘Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery’, suggests you think of a flying carpet during your next plié. “Imagine the pelvic floor to be a flying carpet that lifts and supports the pelvis and torso. As you move, the flying carpet supports the pelvis and frees the legs”. Imagining the pelvic floor floating will help maintain a neutral spine and engage the correct muscles for turnout and alignment support.
A quintessential ballet step, pliés add depth, dynamics, and breath to your movement. Supporting you throughout your dance journey, you can always rely on pliés to ground you, bring you back to your centre, and refine your dance skills. A transition step itself, pliés will also be with you as you transition from a a baby ballerina to a professional dancer.