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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Barre


jane s

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Just wondering, do you always have a full barre in every class you go to, or do you only do a selection of the exercises each time?

 

If it is only a selection, what tends to get left out the most?

 

And do you ever do one exercise on one side & then the next one on the other side?

 

(I hate it when we do that because it makes me feel "lopsided" - especially when the side we do an exercise on happens to be my stronger side & I need to work on my weaker side!)

 

Also, what do you think are the most important barre exercises that should never be skipped (if any)?

 

Jane

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I never give anything less than a full barre of some 40-45 minutes in a 1½ hour class. The theory of barre exercises is, in part, that it works and warms up the body from the floor UP! So, pliés first, and a barre adagio, when you're almost completely warm, to finish.

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Our barre always takes at least 40 minutes, and sometimes takes an entire hour! (We have 90 minute classes.)

Generally we do plie, tendu (slow and quick), degage, fondu, rhombe de jombe a terre, frappe (with petite battement), developpe, rhomb de jombe en lair, grand battement. I might be forgetting something, but I can't think what.

 

Sometimes other things get added in (like pirouttes, or fouttes). We don't do fondu or rhomb de jombe en lair each time, but everything else is always there.

 

On occasion we will do grand battement in the center and add adagio to the barre.

 

I have never heard of doing an exercise on one side and not on the other! That would drive me crazy. In fact, if we do something wrong on the second side and have to repeat the combination, the instructors always make us do the first side again.

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We only have 60-min classes, so with one teacher it is 30 mins barre, 30 mins centre, & the other 20 mins barre, 20 mins centre & 20 mins pointe (approximately - any section could vary by 5 mins either way).

 

One teacher does eveything on both sides & begins with a warm-up, then plies, tendus, degages (aka glisses), rond de jambe, frappes &/or petits battements, grand battements or battements en cloche & one adage. (One of our two adages includes developpes, by the way, and the rond de jambe exercise includes both a terre & en l'air).

 

The other teacher has recently been doing plies on one side, then tendus, rond de jambe, either frappes or petits battements, then grand battements across the room & either adage or releves. She generally only makes us do both sides if we screw up the first side.

 

The things that seem to get missed out the most are degages, frappes, adage & releves (there aren't any fondus in our syllabus at this level, although we have done them at lower levels and they are occasionally included in a free combination).

 

I am worried this isn't enough - e.g. my turnout is getting worse, not better!

 

Jane

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60 minutes class with pointe work taking part of it sounds awfully short. :sweating:

 

My classes are mostly fairly standard 90 minutes classes like the others have described, with 40-45 minutes barre. One is 75 minutes at a lower level and we don't do much grande allegro there (though I imagine next year the group might have a longer class and do that).

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Jaana- even in our 90 minute classes, we don't have much Grande Allegro. Usually our 30 minute center is adagio, turns, petite allegro, grande allegro- sometimes, when we are rushed, with the grande allegro combination ending on the 2nd side with a curtsey and a leap out of the door!

 

We occasionally do reverance, but that is what is almost always sacrificed for time.

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It depends on the level of the class and teacher. In my school beginners dont do adagio at the barre or in the centre...the beginner classes are also only 60min. Now that I think about it, beginners dont do petitte allegro either. They just do little jumps. Certain teachers NEVER do reverance and others always do it. Some teachers spend way too much time on adagio and some spend sooooo much time at the barre that center lasts for ten minutes. I think the best classes are the classes that are balanced out while still being level appropriate.

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A full barre, both sides, is essential. Nothing less is acceptable. And a 60 minutes class which includes pointe work is absurd. Sorry.

 

If you are at a level to do pointe work, then all classes must be AT LEAST 90 minutes, and everything should be included in the barre. It should not be less than 30 minutes, and preferably 40-45. Both sides of the body must be worked equally for all exercises, barre and center. This is not variable or optional. Any teacher who does things on one side is not a teacher. Period. Run, don't walk, away from that class.

 

All classes should include grand allegro. It really takes 90 minutes to do a full class WITHOUT pointe work, which should be after that.

 

There is a logical sequence to the barre, which prepares the body for the center. It's not just a warm up, it teaches the body what will be needed for center work. You cannot do things with one leg and not the other. In the center you move with two legs! :sweating: You have to point both feet, turn out both legs, balance on both sides, extend both legs, etc. How can this happen if you have not done all of the tendu exercises, dégagés, rond de jambes, fondus, développés, frappés, petit battement and grand battement on both sides???

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I want to clarify: the 75 minute class also does some grand allegro, but as the group has not learnt that many steps to go in it yet, the combinations are shorter and take less time. And yes, I'd prefer it to be 90 minutes and I think the teacher would too, but it seems to be school policy that lower levels don't get full 90 minutes. :blink:

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I love barre, i think our routine is very good, it takes approx half the class time, which is an hour. Luckily for me i take two classes together, usually a mixed grade followed by intermediate.

Im pretty sure it covers most if not all the exercises it should.

Also i like that we usually start centre work with tendus, degages, battement balance and or grande battement and preparation for saute (not sure if my spelling is correct :blink: )

 

I find doing it that way really helps for whats to come, it helps me find balance and my centre.

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Jaana, my reply was responding to Jane's situation, not your lower level class. She says they do pointe work, so I must assume that it is an Int. level class. Lower level classes certainly do shorter grand allegro, as they do not yet have the vocabulary of steps for the longer ones. ;)

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Ms Leigh, it is an Intermediate Foundation level class (consolidating all the Grade vocabulary before going on to Intermediate) & is the level at which you begin pointe work.

 

I agree 60 mins is not long enough to cover all the work & do pointe as well (it was just about OK last term before we began pointe, but we need at least an extra 15 mins now & don't have it).

 

We do some Grand Allegro but I'm not really sure how much, although I know the grand jetes en tournant are!

 

The teacher always asks us "frappes or petits battements?" so the next time I shall say "both" & see what she says! (She normally says she wants to do a quick barre so we can get into the centre, and things like "You're OK with that, aren't you? You don't need to do that on the other side, do you? No, of course you don't!" Grrrr! Yes, I do, actually!)

 

Jane

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Jane S, it sounds as though your class is constructed in that way because you're doing a syllabus, so there are set exercises that you need to learn for the exam. The rest of us are doing open classes where the teacher can set combinations as they judge fit. For example, I do a class where we often do a fondu combined with ronde de jambe en l'aire, or frappé combined with petit battement, and so on. Your teacher doesn't have that freedom because of having to "get through" a syllabus. On the other hand, a fair bit of time must be saved in your classes because the exercises are set & you would get to know them very well, so you wouldn't need the teacher to mark them first.

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Yes, that is true as far as it goes - our other teacher (who DOES do the full barre) can get through it all in 30 minutes - but she also gives us some free combinations as well, both at the barre and in the centre.

 

I think this is what Ms Leigh means when she posts about the dangers of being too focussed on the syllabus & not on the purpose of it....

 

(i.e. when it becomes more about "knowing the combinations" at the expense of "learning to dance")

 

Jane

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My question for Mel and Victoria is what exactly is a full barre? How would I know if I had one? What in your respective opinions are the absolute essential movements in a full barre? I’m sure each of you would say that what is necessary depends on the class level, so let’s assume that we are speaking about a 90 minute class composed of over age 25 adults with at least 2-3 years experience and a relatively wide variation in ability.

 

Personally, I like when teachers combine movements into a single barre exercise (e.g., developes, fondu, ronds l’air and perhaps even a turn in a single exercise as an example), which in my little mind raises the question of what exactly makes up a full barre.

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