Beginner Ballet Tips: Grand Plies in Fourth

Ballet class

(Photo credit: Oude School)

Grand plies in fourth position: yuck, right?

Okay, maybe you don’t have a problem with grand plies in fourth, but I certainly do. I’m always super wobbly while doing them. I realize that this probably has a lot to do with the fact my turnout needs a lot of work (my feet can look a mess in fourth position if I’m not being careful).

As it turns out, a quick Google search found a lot of people struggling with grand plies in fourth position, with a lot of them even questioning a need for them, as they’re kind of harsh on the knees.

Someone else recommended keeping a very small fourth position that allows you to really feel your turnout. Other people on the same message board recommended making sure your back knee doesn’t bend too far in, maintaining proper turnout, and keeping your weight equal on the same legs.

My goals for improving my fourth position grand plies will be both working on my turnout and strengthening my knees (from Dance Spirit Magazine). I’m already doing the squats from the knee strengthening post!

Do you have trouble with 4th position grand plies? Do you think they should be banned?

Note: I’m not a professional ballet instructor or fitness instructor, just sharing the notes I found helpful when I was looking for help for myself.

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  • Lindsay

    I am pretty much a beginner myself and by no means an expert but I found that when I was having problems with my grande plies it was (as with most things in ballet), mostly core strength. If you are wobbly/hurting/your knees/losing turnout in fourth position, you are most likely dropping your weight and trying to do way too deep of a plie (as in, deeper than your strength will allow). I have found making sure my weight doesn’t drop and therefore staying more centered makes a huge difference, even if I have to sacrifice depth. As you get stronger and are able to stay more pulled up the beautiful deep grand plies will happen! Even in fourth! (at least that’s what I tell myself :P)

    • Absolutely! I’ve improved my core strength a lot and my grand plies in fifth have improved tremendously! Maybe I need to get even stronger to do them in fourth!

  • I definitely have an issue with them! My hips are poorly aligned, so turning out is already a huge difficulty for me. Add that to a plie, with my legs crossed, about a foot apart…. Usually I can dip down fine, but coming up is a wobbly mess 🙁

  • Lindsay

    haha I feel like in ballet you are never strong enough! My hips are really tight so strengthening my turnout is a big thing for me, too.

  • Wow, the idea of banning 4th grand plies scares me!

    My chasses would suck, my pirouettes would suck. My grand jetes would be worse off… So much happens in that 4th position.

    I admit 4th positin is hard. My calves and my Achilles’ tendon need to stretch more and loosen more, but it also has to do with my turn out and ankle flexibility.

    Despite it being a challenge I never thought much of 4th grand plies.

    Now I probably won’t stop thinking about them in class today.

  • Several of the classes that I do don’t include grande plies in fourth – only demis. I think it’s a good idea to teach later on as it involves a lot more skill than other plies. In the RAD grades that I used to do as a child, it wasn’t introduced until about grade 6, which only really commited teenagers reached.

  • We do demi/grand plies in fourth every class. Due to sucky turnout, my plies are ugly but I can get down, baby! Good advice about concentrating on staying centered. Will try!

  • thnks for the opprotunity to win the shoelaces love

  • Joy

    Due to a knee surgery, I am not allowed to do full grand plies at all. Instead I really work on my form so all of Lindsay’s tips were invaluable. I know for certain I will focus more on what my core is doing. THANKS!