Classical ballet — The plane theory

I had a private lesson the other day, which I highly recommend if that’s an option for you, and we talked a lot about imagery and thinking about feeling length and simplifying basic placement while you are dancing.  I wrote down all of the corrections I received, and noticed a pattern.

After doing some journaling, brainstorming, and intense thinking — I came to the conclusion that every correction you get regarding basic placement, posture, lift, and motion can be regarded and summarized in what I like to call “the plane theory.”

*Note: The lines going horizontally are circular, and therefore reach out equally in each direction (front, side, back, diagonally)

Put simply, there are 5 “planes” of expansion that you must occupy at all times.  Each line in the diagram represents a plane of expansion.

In other words, you must get longer in both directions at each of the lines drawn in the picture.  To put this theory to test, think of any basic classical ballet step or piece of technique and how it would apply to this theory.  For example, tipping/tucking your pelvis.  The line going up/down must be as long as possible, and therefore it must be straight (curvy lines are shorter).  So, that prohibits any tipping/tucking motion from happening.  Tendu to the side.  You must be as long as possible horizontally on the floor.  So, if you were to a tendu to the front, you must be directly in front of you because there is a plane reaching in that direction and you must be as long as possible.

Circular movements are also included because the horizontal lines you see expand in all directions.  So, rond de jambe must be as long as possible and reach out because there is a plane there.  Yet, your hip and body cannot move because of the vertical plane.

Turnout is covered because of the plane reaching outward at the feet, to make that as long as possible you must be as turned out as you can.  Basic hip placement in positions such as retiré is codified due to the outward plane at the hip, and to tilt that would be to make it shorter.  Any twisting of the body is not allowed because there are planes reaching out to the sides at the hips, and they must be kept there.  Therefore, isolation of the different horizontal sections is necessary and included in this theory.

Notice that the head is not between any two horizontal planes, and therefore it can move freely as long as the neck is not shortened or strained.

When you transition onto one leg, the vertical plane shifts to your center of weight, which is over the ball of the foot on the supporting side.  In this sense, it tells you how to balance as well.

I hope this theory helps you figure out some of the basic technique of ballet.  Applying your planes to any of your ballet steps and practicing this theory during class will really help your performance and the cleanliness of your technique.  Have a fantastic day filled with pirouettes!!!

2 thoughts on “Classical ballet — The plane theory

  1. Look at the way your mind works! You got so much out of the lesson then took it to another level on your own.

  2. Brilliant! I love the way you explain it so concisely and clearly. I wish all my dancers thought about dance the way you do.

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