Teachers, if you have been trying to increase your dancers’ range of motion in terms of building demi plié, here are 3 quick, easy exercises you can show them. Sometimes a muscular or skeletal issue, the culprit though also can be the result of tight plantar flexors; inhibiting a limited a range of motion they can execute. Over time, with consistency and repetition, you will see a dramatic improvement and it only takes minutes a day.
#1 Slow demi pliés: Start in parallel 1st position. Holding onto a wall, have your dancer press against the wall with resistance in proper alignment. Begin with very slow demi pliés, holding in the demi plié for 30 seconds-1 minute and then straighten.
#2 Heel lifts & slow relevés: Start in parallel 1st position. Pressing against a wall or holding onto chair. Start in demi plié with very slow heel raises to bring the dancer to forced arch/demi relevé and then lower the heels back to the ground (all while remaining in demi relevé.) Watch that the core is engaged and there is no leaning forward or back. Make sure knees do not go past the toes or ankle. Start with 10-15 slow repetitions.
Progression #1: Take the heel lift to a full, slow relevé with straight legs. Come back to demi relevé and lower the heels slowly.
Progression #2: Start in parallel 1st with straight legs. Heels lift straight to relevé and lower (no plié.) The slower the dancer goes the better, as it makes them work through their feet to get heels down. Repeat 10-15 times times.
Alternative Progressions: Increase repetitions. Repeat in turned out first. Let go of chair, wall, etc.
#3 Hanging stair stretch: Have dancers hold onto a railing and stand on a step or stair. Have them place their feet on the edge of the stair and let their heels hang off the end. This will give a wonderful stretch to the calves and stretch the plantar flexors as well as the Achilles muscle in the back of the ankle which we know can cause severe problems if tight or injury occurs. Hold for 30 seconds-1 minute. Release.
See you in the dance studio,