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Deeper plies?


taxi4ballet
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Any suggestions please!

 

My dd is struggling to get down in plies at the moment. We're not sure whether it is tight achilles tendons, or tight calf muscles (or possibly even the plantar tendon in the sole of her foot).

 

I don't think she has short tendons - at least she never used to have(!) and used to be able to squat right down without lifting her heels off the floor. She can't do that at all now.

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Mt teacher gets us to think of relaxing and letting our body weight pull us down. The harder you try the tenser your muscles get which just makes it harder! She could try focusing on relaxing her ankles and sinking slowly doen into the plie.

Her muscles and tendons might have tightened up, especially if she is growing quite fast. Make sure she stretches her calves and achilles every day, mine get stretched at least four times a day otherwise my legs would barely bend! You could always take her to see a physio or podiatrist to check nothing is unusually tight.

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Hi Shimmer, dd's seen a physio, who said there wasn't anything physically that they could see was wrong.

 

She hasn't grown for a while - she had an early growth spurt at 11 and pretty much stopped about 6 months ago. Because she is hypermobile she tends to hold herself in quite firmly otherwise she says she feels as though she will flop about all over the place.

 

Her jumps have always been somewhat 'Tigger'-like, more of a jack-in-a-box than soft and bouncy!

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I think it is more important to do a plié correctly than to push beyond what the body can accomplish - even what it can accomplish at any given moment.

 

Since you specifically mentioned "without lifting her heels" off the floor - then I assume you are speaking of demi-plié (in any position) and/or grand plié in second position.

 

There are other things to watch for besides depth in both demi and grand:

 

that her ankles don't roll in

 

her descent and ascent are erect, smooth and controlled.

 

 

There should be no hesitation at the bottom of the plié before beginning the ascent.

 

She may have improved any of these things and therefore altered the look and execution of the pilé.

 

Does she have any pain? Does she feel any unusual any tightness?

 

She might want to change her visualization and instead of thinking of "holding herself in" - think of "engaging her muscles."

 

In doing pliés the muscles should be engaged. Pliés are not a "squat" - but a controlled movement - a controlled stretch.

 

Some of us are tigers and some of us are balloons :)

 

 

What does her teacher say?

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Hi Anjuli, when I mentioned squatting, i was talking about when she was very little, and used to squat on the floor to play with her toys!

 

Her technique is secure, and she has flat turnout. She doesn't roll in and she is fine with grand plies in 2nd, if anything the hardest position for her is plie in 1st. She says that it feels tight across the front of her foot.

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One of the things she might want to check (along with her teacher) is where her heels are in first position. That could have an impact on the feeling of tightness across the front of the foot.

 

it depends upon where her knees are.

 

When she stands in first position - when her knees are just touching - where are her heels? Are they, too, touching or is there a space between them? Since you mentioned she is hypermobile, do her knees hyperextend? She might want to check - with her knees straight - but not pushed back (very important) - when they touch in first position - is there a space between her heels in first position?

 

If there is a space - then that is her own personal first position and that space must be honored in everything she does in first position - including grand or demi plié. Also, including rond de jambe a terre.

 

Everyone has their own personal first position depending upon the construction of the body. For instance, since my knees are very slightly bowed, my heels touch in first position whilst my knees have a space of about one inch.

 

So - what I am saying is - you have to look beyond just the feet when thinking about plié.

 

But. then, that is true in everything.

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I would suggest relaxing the ankles as much as possible in demi plie in 1st, without rolling inwards. A lot of dancers restrict their demi plie by tensing the front of the ankle.

 

It might be worth having a quick look at her movement of her big toe joint. You should be able to take her big toe (with her sitting with legs out straight) and bend it up to 90 degrees. If her FHL tendon is tight this will restrict this big toe movement, but will also create tightness under the medial arch of the foot (in line with the big toe) and can develop into FHL tendonitis which is often confused with achilles pain.

 

On similar lines, her toes should be flat and relaxed in the demi plie. Any 'gripping' of the floor with toes, particularly the big toe, will also restrict the plie due to tightening of the FHL and associated tendons.

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Anjuli, her heels are a little apart in 1st position, and she does have slightly hyperextended knees.

 

Drdance, the big toe joint is fine and bends well up, but I do wonder about toe clenching.

 

When she was small her ballet teacher said 'point your toes' so she did exactly as she was told. Just the toes. Not the whole foot. She did this for quite a while until the penny dropped (makes you wonder why the teacher didn't say 'point your foot') This same teacher wouldn't believe she was she hypermobile, she said dd was really tense and stiff all the time. She is no longer with this teacher!

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