Your plié is like a spring—it gives you the power to jump in the air. You cannot jump or relevé from straight legs. You must plié first. You will learn pliés facing the barre. Holding the barre helps to keep your shoulders and hips level while you concentrate on bending and stretching in the correct position. You will only do demi-pliés until your legs are strong enough to do a full plié.
Just practice demi-pliés at first. When you have a good smooth movement, follow the whole sequence to go down into a grand plié and reverse it to come up. Don’t pull yourself up on the barre— your leg and stomach muscles should lift you back up. Stand with heels together in first position. Your legs should be turned out from the hips, hands lightly on the barre. Keep your heels on the floor as you bend, pushing your thighs and knees out to make a diamond shape.
As you go lower, your heels will lift up. As you go back up, push your heels on the floor and keep your back straight. Stand evenly on both feet. Try to keep hips and shoulders level as you go up and down smoothly. Look forward and don’t be tempted to look down. Don’t go too low in any of the grand pliés—your bottom should not be below your knees.