“Plié is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master”

A plié is defined as:

Bent, bending. A bending of the knee or knees. This is an exercise to render the joints and muscles soft and pliable and the tendons flexible and elastic, and to develop a sense of balance. There are two principal pliés: grand plié or full bending of the knees (the knees should be bent until the thighs are horizontal) and demi-plié or half-bending of the knee.

American Ballet Theater

Pretty much every class starts with pliés and they’re usually the first thing we learn as ballet dancers, no matter what level we start at.

Suzanne Farrell said, “Plié is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master.”

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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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