Parlez-vous, part deux!

| December 23, 2008 | 0 Comments

“You know, I just had to keep going, because the title for this article was just TOO catchy not to!”

In the event anyone was keeping score, I did manage to wear my stilettos onto the turf for NY State Field Band Champs, switched into “judge shoes,” [i.e. flats] and then switched back.

Labor intensive? You bet.   

Necessary? Absolutely.

Crazy? Never Mind. 

Thank heavens the Carrier Dome [Syracuse, NY] has an elevator.


As I worked my way through the remainder of the marching band season, I was treated to some really creative movement skills interspersed with marching band programs, along with the tried and true favorites.   The ronde de jambe has a staunch following, as does the lunge, port de bras, [with or without an instrument in hand] and the ballet dancer’s workhorse: the plie.  I know I touched on these skills in my previous article, but as promised, I will be going into greater depth.

I’ll begin today with the Plie and the Lunge.   


(plee ay) Literally “bent”. A smooth and continuous bending of the knees.

plié(Fr., bent). Bending of the knee. In classical ballet the term most commonly refers to a slow bending of both legs, knees turned out to the side at a right angle to the front of the body, heels on the floor. It is the fundamental movement of the daily ballet class, used to warm the muscles and tendons during exercises at the barre before proceeding into the centre of the studio. Dictionary of Dance. The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Copyright © 2000, 2004 by Oxford University Press ** edited to add: VERY seldom will your students have a perfect 90 degree turnout, and you won’t want to push for that angle, as it tends to end up with the Weebles look – except that not only do they just wobble, they often fall down, too.

Plie’s are commonly added to provide weight force, effort, and/or level change.  In the simplest visual terms, the body drops down – Instant dynamic change, both of weight force and space!  

The primary caveat I have for you is this:  When incorporating plie into your team’s repertoire, it is imperative you not only view from the front, but also from the side.  Students new to the technique have a tendency “sit” into their plie…when they need to maintain a straight line from the spine to the tailbone.  If you teach using the euphemism “Stay in your toaster,” this is the same premise.  The student needs to elongate the rib cage and stretch the lower vertebrae.  Stretching upwards, or “resisting” the plié, is what keeps you from losing your balance.

To those learning plie: Always be sure to keep the knees over the toes!! This prevents potential injury to the ankle, and promotes proper turnout – plus, it looks better!

Plie’s need to be performed in a smooth and fluid fashion – do not bounce in and out of the motion – this is technically incorrect, and if done with cold muscles, can pose risk of injury.

Lunge – Not just to the Side anymore!

[Sidebar: One of my fave GE quotes EVER is, “Never Underestimate the Power of a Lunge.”]

OK. Any research I have done regarding the lunge [via Google, exercise videos, anatomy texts and informal surveys – I’m nothing if not random informal] seems to keep bringing me to exercise and work out routines, when we all know the lunge is a viable means of exploring indirect space, taking the upper body off center, and occasionally giving vertigo to ones students.  

My primary advice when teaching lunges is to be certain the performers have an understanding of exactly how far out the supporting leg is extending from the body, and to what degree the quadriceps is engaged  (In laymen’s terms, that would be: “how much bend in the leg?”) Additionally, be certain the supporting leg is turned out – this is a fun exercise to try both turned out and straight on for a physical representation of how much more support is achieved with a turned out leg. This can be especially helpful to those without a lot of dance training, who might not grasp the importance of turnout until they fall experience the difference.

Lunges are the potato of the movement bag of tricks – much as that tuber can be mashed, roasted, baked, fried…etc. [why, yes I AM a bit hungry, why do you ask?] The lunge can be performed to all directions, [not JUST to the side] with varying degrees of muscular involvement; the upper body can be called into play; the arms can be sculpted, shaped and reshaped…. the options are limitless.  It’s another “magic moment,” so to speak – instant dynamic change in weight force AND space!  [You’re welcome] 

Explore, enjoy, and have fun – just stay away from the ketchup.

(Oh, and, after all those potatoes… lunges are a great addition to your student’s strength training routine!)

I’ll be Back soon with more tales of the toe point! 


Category: Instruction, Movement

About the Author (Author Profile)

Cheryl Myers (aka “The (self-proclaimed) Movement Chick”) is a movement instructor, adjudicator and would-be rockette, living in the Fingerlakes area of New York State. Primary affiliations include the New York Federation of Contest Judges, and the Atlantic Indoor Association. She has most recently worked with Trumansburg High School, and is continually blessed by the opportunity to consult and adjudicate for circuits around the country. In addition to her pageantry career, Ms. Myers works in the accounting and insurance fields, and yes, is great fun at parties, thankyouverymuch. Her primary job, and that which she is most proud of, is raising her two beautiful children, a future dancer and drummer.

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