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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Turns at the Barre


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I did a search for this topic, but didn't find anything, found a lot of other stuff, but nothing on this, so here goes. I don't know about the rest of you, but I HATE :) doing any type of turn at the barre. In my early years, I smacked my knee too many times and now have a paranoia about it. I haven't smacked my knee in at least three or four (or more) years, and know to move away until just the tips of my fingers are on the barre, but unless we're moving along at a good clip, I just don't do turns at the barre well. So, of course tonight when we're having terrible weather (snow, freezing rain, etc) and no one else shows up for class except me, what do we do? (I) do? Turns at the barre. The teacher knows I hate doing these, perhaps that's why she chose to do them, and she was good about allowing me to go slowly, but what do the rest of you do about this fear of smacking your knee on the barre? That is if anyone else has this mental problem. Thank you!

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Oh Dancepig, I so have the same problem. Being 5ft9ish and having long legs I have done this way too many times; you would have thought I would have learnt, and yes I do, but everytime I go to a new barre or have to work with barres with adjustable heights (so the height is not alwaysexactly the same each class) I have to check that there is nothing to whack my knee on.. It just brings back painful memories. The worst barre is the old style ones which are attached to the wall and have solid metal fixings with pointy things..ouch :)

Now I always test out the barre prior to barrework and do some turns to check I'm not going to whack my knee.

I also agree that you become wary of doing turns and that affects that exercise and you hold back. It does even now take me a couple of goes, to realise I'm not going to hit my knee on this turn and that it will be OK. I think it's worse doing turns at the barre in pointe shoes, because you're that little bit higher.

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I always make sure that i am 1) at a higher barre and 2) far away enough not to hit my knee. The studios where I train have at least 2 or 3 different heights. Just be careful, I know how much it can hurt

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Well, if you are standing at the barre right and turning over your foot, you aren’t going to hit the barre. The only way that can happen is if your upper leg is unbelievably long in relation to your arm, almost to the extent of being freakish. I’m willing to bet that isn’t the case.


When I first started doing pirouettes at the barre, I too lived in fear of hitting the barre. I probably did too (I can’t remember to be honest), but that was because my pirouettes at the barre were infinitely more terrible than they were in center. In center, they weren’t that good to start with, so at the barre, my confidence dipped even further and I was a complete mess.


Having said that, I can now say that both my pirouettes at the bar and in center are relatively decent. I don’t get nervous at all about doing them at the barre. In fact, being so close to the wall while at the barre seems to get me over my foot easier I think. In my own case, I think time was the big factor in improvement. With time, my pirouettes in center got better as did my pirouettes at the barre.


There are a couple of things you might do that I think could help. First, make sure you are standing at the barre correctly, i.e., not too close. Second, practice barre turns like flic-flac a lot. You certainly are not going to bash a knee on a flic-flac and you will gain confidence in turning close to the barre. Third, turn in coupe rather than retire for a while. Actually, I like turning from coupe in 5th because it really makes you use your plie and feet to turn (no wind-up allowed and if you can do them with your hands on your waist, so much the better).


Thank your teacher for what she did. It is good to confront your fears directly.

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It's so funny you brought this up. I whacked my knee SO HARD on the barre on Saturday doing an en dedans fouette. The barres attached to the walls have these big steel poles that run perpendicular to the floor. I hit the inside of my knee and swear I felt my kneecap get knocked to the outside. I hit it so hard (can't figure out how---my pirouettes at the barre aren't very foreful), the whole class gasped. Needed to sit out the rest of class and take a day off! The bruise is huge but I think there's no permanent damage.


I whacked my knee because I stayed up till 3 playing WarioWorld on my Nintendo. I was too tired in class and wasn't thinking . It was in a series and the previous one had gone off a bit and I got too close to the barre.

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Guest kristinene

This isn's something I usually struggle with, I'm usually too far away from the barre! Which leads to my barre piroutte problems - reaching for it as I come around, which naturally throws off the entire turn. If I'm really thinking about not reaching I'm fine, but as soon as I start to concentrate on something else (anything else!) it is all over. I don't have this problem in the center at all! Standing at the baree though, I just know its there and want to hold on to it again!

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Oh Lampwick, I hope your knee is feeling better! And I hope your score in WarioWorld was worth it! Gary, you're correct that technically, I won't hit my knee if I'm over my foot, and in fact, I have not hit my knee for several years. And, like you, I really prefer doing spot turns from fifth in coupe instead of retire (but that's because I once came down from retire and actually stepped on the other foot causing me to fall on my butt while doing center floor work - not a pretty picture), but we're not allowed to do these or much of anything else in coupe position. Also, we do have those horrible barres with the lower and upper barres attached with the metal brackets, in fact, the barres are metal! So, everything combined, it's just a mental paranoia for me, but the flic-flac idea sounds great, it will also help me to remember what the heck that is! :shrug: Thanks!

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I'm also a bit on the tall side and have the dreaded metal high and low barres attached to the wall (I have the option to use metal portable barres in the center, but I don't enjoy staring at myself through the entire barre and they're a tad wobbly).


I've smacked my knees into that darned lower bar and the joints more times than I can count. The teacher told me to do a low retire but everything tends to get wacky when I do this. I'm nervous about it to begin with and I've managed to smack my knee with this lower position by some sort of luck (aka bad positioning, too close to the bar, the fates are against me, etc) . It does not help that my turns are less than stellar to begin with. ;)


In all honesty, unless I HAVE to, I take a mini-step away from the barre (yes, I'm a big cheater). Otherwise I struggle through a turn somewhere around low retire when the combination is too fast to accomodate my move. When we're practicing fouettes two-handed, ending in attitude derriere or retire, everyone has to use the portables.

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I was actually able to do several fairly good turns at the dreaded barre tonight, they were simple en dehors from fourth, but had to do four in succession. I have to say, thanks to Garyecht's voice in my head

if you are standing at the barre right and turning over your foot
I was able to execute several good turns in succession. My teacher was very happily surprised. But, unless I just tune my mental paranoia out and as Nike says "just do it", I become this messy schmuck! I think they should either provide some form of knee pads or padding for the barre supports!
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Whew...You all know now how scary those first pas de deux classes can be for young women and men when they begin learning supported pirouettes! It takes skill and trust to learn to turn so closely to another dancer...Turning at the barre helps a bit in this regard. Of course, some of you probably do some partnering and know this...

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:( This is true, but when I did partnering the angle was a little different, and, depending on my partner, when we collided there was a bit more "give" than our metal barres! But I never thought of this aspect before and from now on I will appreciate being able to do this rather than dreading it, and I am sure that alone will help a lot. Thanks for the input!!! :thumbsup:
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