Beginner Ballet: Pliés on Pi(e) Day

March 14, the sweetest day of the year.  Why’s that, you ask?

3.14 = the first three digits of the infinite many in the irrational number Pi, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, represented by the symbol π.

Of course, pie with a silent ‘e’ is my preferred type of pi.  Therefore, we celebrate March 14th, Pi Day, with pie here at Sweet Pirouettes.

Math lesson over, dessert lesson below.

Surely you’re familiar with the ABC’s of pie…Apple, Blueberry, Cherry.  While all of these flavors are perfectly palatable, I celebrated Pi Day with something a bit more adventurous: strawberry rhubarb.

My first foray into rhubarb pie called for a little research.  Turns out, rhubarb is actually a vegetable with a bright pink stalk and poisonous leaves.  Not to worry, the pie is made only of the stalk, which is what gives the filling that magenta color.  Rhubarb on its own is deathly bitter, though the dessert was, well, sweet as pie.

Eating rhubarb pie is slightly disconcerting–you can clearly see what looks like bits of celery stalk in the gooey pink filling where one is accustomed to seeing cute little berry bits or tender apple slices.  Once you’re past the looks—after all, weren’t we all taught not to judge a book by its cover?—your taste buds will revel in the combination of sugary jam and buttery crust.  My verdict? If you’re looking for an adventure, rhubarb pie with a dollop of whipped cream will leave you sweetly satisfied.  For the faint of heart, a basic ABC pie will do.

And finally, our ballet lesson of the day: the plié.

Pronounced [plee-AY], this move is simply bending at the knees.  A plié is one of the first moves a dancer learns in ballet class.  This exercise warms up the joints as well as the torso when combined with arm and back stretches (cambré) at the barre.

There are five feet positions in ballet.

Pliés are done in every position (except third) at the barre for an exercise in balance and turn-out.  The plié is a key foundational move for all dancers, ballet or otherwise.  Every turn and jump performed by every dancer from beginner to professional requires a plié first.  Without a proper bend at the knee to propel the dancer up or around, no pirouette or grand jeté can occur.  The importance of this simple move cannot be overstated.

Though it is simple in concept, a proper plié demands technique.  Posture of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and abdomen must be aligned, the legs must be turned out from the hips, the arches of the feet must not roll forward or backward.

Our simple plié is a bit more complicated than it seems.  Treat yourself with a slice of pie, you’ve earned it!