The ballet barre steadily builds strength and teaches the correct body placement for ballet dancers. It is a crucial part of training and challenges your flexibility, strength, balance and precision.
You will really begin to see here how key the barre is to every single dancer. It very much like a musician practicing scales on their instrument - the exercises are essential to do, otherwise you can get rusty in your technique.
The precision and quality of a ballet dancer's technique takes a lot of repetition to master.
The barre is where you can begin to develop the right muscles and co-ordination, which is very specific for ballet.
All ballet classes will begin at the barre and it can take up a large section of the class before reaching center work.
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At a quick glance, here are just some of the reasons why the bar is so importance to every ballet dancer -
• The footwork gains precision and speed.
• The muscles become warmer and more pliable.
• Helps the body prepare for turns and jumps.
• Flexibility and strength will increase.
• Improves balance.
When I was younger and training in ballet, I remember the intense practice
at the barre and almost army-like precision. All of my class had to get
the barre exercises exactly correct with all the right timing, heads,
arms and energy.
You have to be very alert at the ballet barre in class, because the exercises can get taught very quickly so if you miss learning it, there is no time to catch up.
Often, our ballet teacher would not even remind us the exercises we learnt on the barre the next day because she expected us to remember. You can wonder why everybody was hesitant to stand at the front of the barre with no one to follow!
However, it's a good habit to start relying on yourself to remember the exercises. Even when you reach a professional, you will still take class everyday and practice at the barre.
It is true the exercises at the barre follow a certain structure every single time. A dancer always begins with plies then goes into tendus, jetes, rond de jambe, fondus and so on. Yet even though this basis structure is the same, the combination of the exercise certainly is not.
There is a lot to remember for the barre exercises, because the timing will be different including the arm co ordination, footwork and closing of the legs.
The ballet barre doesn't only just get your body warm for the center, but it helps action your muscles and prepare for pas de deux work.
When you start dancing with a partner as a professional, they are there to support you on stage as there is no longer a barre to help you. That is why you have to get used to keeping a really light hand on the bar.
Every time you begin a bar exercise, imagine you are giving your hand to your partner not a wooden bar... use your imagination! I certainly did. I used to really imagine in my ballet classes that I was dancing on stage, or performing with my partner at the bar.
Sometimes, the barre exercises can feel more static and not like
you're actually moving or dancing as you love to do. Yet it is important
to take the barre very seriously to keep on top your technique and
strengthen your muscles.
If you change your train of thought and still focus on DANCING at the barre, not how difficult the exercise is, it does make it feel better but slightly easier.
So, use your imagination and dance your heart away!