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Sports & Games

Barre Warm-up: Pliés and Tendus

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 9:18 min

Misty introduces placement principles for proper alignment and shares a series of stationary exercises to practice pliés and tendus. These exercises will help you build strength and prepare for jumps.

Misty Copeland
Teaches Ballet Technique and Artistry
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland teaches you how to build your technique, embrace your story, and own your movement.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - What you will be seeing in the next few chapters is the way I start my days at the barre. I think that I have a different understanding of the ballet technique than I ever have in my professional career. You know, a plie is a plie, a tendu is a tendu. But it's having a different understanding of how to approach those steps. All of the exercises I'm going to show you at the bar are designed to prepare me for performances. We'll work through technique and build into larger moves that'll execute in the Black Swan Variation. Ballet class has become a meditation and it prepares me to be able to take on all the stresses of what it is to be a professional dancer. You know, I've really found amazing teachers and people that I work with who have gotten me to a place of thinking that less is more. Less repetition, more quality work. I've gotten to a point on stage now where the less I'm kind of moving my body, the more I can save energy and have more stamina. So that's really kind of the basis of what I do daily. So my barre work is pretty simple. I do a lot of it facing the barre, which I think a lot of people would think, oh, that's what children do. You know, when you're five, you start facing the barre. But I think it's a really good way for me to just find the stability, get warm, and then quickly be able to move on and do what I need to do. So we're just going to start simply, like I would do every day. So I usually start in second position and really just go in order of getting my core to feel engaged, and then getting my hips to really be wrapped and strong. And then straightening my knees as much as I can and getting the weight kind of, really, pushed down through my heels. And then I'm focusing on keeping my shoulders kind of locked in and open. And the work that I'm doing is so minimal, because I'm putting so much effort and energy into really just getting all of this set to get me strong and get me ready for the center work. So I do the smallest plies. I've really engaged in keeping everything straight and then up. So it's really small work. But that little movement gets me warm in about 30 seconds. So again, the less repetition and the more quality of plie and work that I do, the better. In ballet, everything works holistically, that means continuously considering each part of your body and how one part is influencing another. As you plie, push your knees back. You want to be careful not to tuck your hips or arch your lower back. Your back, hips, and thighs should stay tightened. Make sure you pull your core in and up. Push your shoulders down and lift your chest slightly up and outward. This will help to push your shoulders back slightly and help keep your middle back straight. Fully straighten your legs by planting your heels into the ground. Shifting your weight to the balls of your feet will actually cause you to lose balance and fall out of alignment. It's really interesting to think that my knees...

Bring emotion to life

As the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland made history. Now she’s one of the world’s most influential dancers, and she’s inviting you to the barre to develop a deeper appreciation for ballet and the language of dance. From pliés to partners, Misty demonstrates her techniques and teaches you to own your movement, own who you are, and do the dance only you can do.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Wonderful woman, dancer, artist, wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing. The film is also beautiful

There are no words to adequately share how important Misty Copeland's class is to me. All I can say is that the class is AMAZING and filled with HEALTHY human ideas that I keep with me for the rest of my life.

This is really for my 13 year old, she loves this

Misty provides such insight into her journey, uniquely carved within a classical form steeped in tradition. Her focus on the individuation possible while shaping a creative path gives encouragement and hope to all artists.



My first reaction when viewing this lesson was "OMG, she has knees like me!" I was so excited to see that because in my barre classes I've always struggled with hyper-mobility. I've always been self-conscious about it because I couldn't stand with my heels together, my knees always getting in the way. Seeing Misty explaining her hyper-mobility and how you work with it, not against it, is amazing!

A fellow student

It's really interesting how she is creating a new technique that works with the body to create strength and mitigate hyper-mobility challenges that can lead to injury and make certain steps more difficult. I wish I had seen this 20 years ago, I might have avoided some knee problems! Looking forward to doing these petite plies and tendus and strengthening my knees. It's also nice to see a ballerina who is a real person and points out when she is working hard to maintain alignment and perform movements.

A fellow student

I appreciated how Misty explained that the small movements can really warm up one's muscles. Helps me understand the importance of being more patient with yoga.

A fellow student

I liked it because she elaborates on how to do the movement. She also shares that just because you are black or you have a darker skin tone doesn't mean that you are not fit to do that part. Do not believe what they say if it makes you feel hurt misty. And this applies to everyone. If you find that you are someone who does say those hurtful things, what you are doing is wrong.

L D.

i love this so much. i have never had anyone explain something so well and simply. thank you. i am not a trained dancer, but adore movement. this lesson is making me feel stronger already.

A fellow student

Wow! This course is so great. Everything is explained in detail and easy to understand. Thank you Misty.


As a non-Ballet Dancer (though I imagine I were sometimes!), it really does look like Misty's doing very little indeed. Though, I'm gaining insights into what it takes to be so perfectly postured.

Samantha Y.

Ive always kept my weight off my heels and am excited to try this work in class! I'm not particularly hyperextended... Would you say this would still apply or is this to help strengthen dancers who are overly mobile?

June W.

Wow! That's so tough! Thank you for showing us how very important these exercises are. :)))