Pliés [plee-AYs] are arguably one of the most important steps to learn in the dance world. Pliés are primarily taught in ballet class as a fundamental exercise, but their impact on the quality and safety on a dancer’s movement extends far beyond the ballet barre.
What is a plié?
Plié means “to bend”, and the movement is just that– a bending of the knee (or knees). The most common pliés used in class are the demi-plié (a half bending of the knees with heels planted on the ground), and a grande plié (full bending of the knees with heels lifted—with the exception of 2nd position). Pliés are done at the barre and in the center and can be done from all five positions of the feet (turned in and out). Dancers must have good alignment and movement control to successfully execute the movement.
Pliés are great for all dancers no matter what style they are performing. Here are a few reasons why we love pliés, and you should too:
- Practicing pliés is a great way to warm up your muscles before dancing. The movements performed in pliés help gently strengthen and stretch muscles in the lower body, priming the hips, ankles, and calves for more strenuous movements later.
- Better, safer jumps and leaps. If you have ever tried to jump without bending your knees, you probably didn’t make it very far off the ground. A nice, deep demi- plié is essential to propel you off the floor in any leap or jump. It is also important to use your plié to land your jumps and leaps as it helps to absorb the shock of your landing, protecting your ankles and knees.
- Pliés also help propel your turns. The secret to having clean, powerful turns is all in the plié. In ballet, most turns come from a 4th position plié, and in jazz turns mainly come from a parallel lunge plié. Long story short, solid pliés = solid turns!
Who Should Plié?
Everyone! Ballerinas, hip-hop dancers, athletes, children, adults, and everyone in between. Pliés provide a strong base in the body which helps you to jump higher, turn with power, and prevent negative impact on the lower body.
We hope the next time your teacher gives you a plié combination in class, you’ll think about all the ways your new favorite move will improve your technique and keep your body injury-free!