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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Barre At Home


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What kind of routine do you do at home? I have occasionally created a simple plié, tendu, degaje, battement barre combination set, but would like some insight from others. What do you do on your non-class days (or in addition to class days) to continue your practice out of the studio?

What kind of music do you use as well? Do you use classical or other music?


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From a teachers view I wish my students would go over steps they struggle with coordination so when they arrive at class next time, I just can correct technique. Often I experience that adult students get a step intellectually but not in their body. Once understood where what leg goes in which direction I wish they'd just mark it at home a couple of times so that they have it in their body when they come back to class and I can start to correct their technique.


Other than that, I would like some to stretch at home. This just as long as they are sure what they are doing. Usually we do some stretches together in class and when I feel that they can do a stretch safely at home I tell them.

Oh, and all they have been told by their PT do so! ;-) That would help a lot.


For myself, I stretch a lot and I do crosstraining because I have some tipical dancer's problems like, turn-out very good but turning-in very bady so I have an instable hip. I used to do PT for that so I know what exercises I should do but I alternate them regularly otherwise I will get bored. I never do barre because my home is not the ideal place to do it.... I don't have a barre at home, not enough space to move without hitting something down and now adapted floor. When I feel like going over something I usually arrive earlier in class in the hope to find some empty studio.

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I am lucky enough to own my dance school, so I can use the studio whenever I feel like it.


I create new exercises for almost every 'class' I give myself when I go and use the studio on days that I don't have ballet classes. I only use ballet class music. I just listen to a piece, count the number of 8-counts there are and create a different exercise which I mark once, and then I execute it. Then I move on to the next exercise.


I also spend time going over what I had trouble with in class and I also do 20 minutes of pointe (at my teacher's request) to work on my strength. I only do rises, relevés and échappé relevés at the barre.


Now that I am getting closer to my RAD Intermediate exam, I also work on specific syllabus exercises.

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>>What kind of routine do you do at home?


Over the years my routine evolved. At first it was just reviewing what we did in class, whatever I could remember. It evolved into doing complete classes, either repeating a class that I had taken or making up my own class, and finally doing "practices" where I would spend all my time concentrating on just a few technical principles doing a variety of exercises.


>>What do you do on your non-class days (or in addition to class days) to continue your practice out of the studio?


As a retired person, I have plenty of time available to me. Every day I exercise and dance. Well, every day except Sunday. I jokingly call myself an unpaid professional dancer. I'm really a modern dancer, though in the last few weeks I've done more ballet just on a whim. I do what I feel like doing.


When I was working, I didn't do as much exercising as I do now, but did dance every day, either in class or at home. I never did modern or jazz at home, only ballet and Spanish/flamenco back then.


>>What kind of music do you use as well?


For ballet, ballet class CDs. I have several.


>>Do you use classical or other music?


As I said, for ballet class it is only ballet class CDs. When I work on modern, I use jazz or contemporary classical music. I very much enjoy dancing to contemporary classical music.

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I don't often practice at home, but I really should. For exactly the reasons that Claude_Catastrophique cites. Ultimately, things do sink in, but it takes comparatively longer for it to happen when I don't do some thinking/marking between classes.

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I think barre is the easiest thing to do at home. It requires only a very small space. You don't need a studio barre. I've used household items like chairs or bookcases as makeshift barres. In fact I'll argue that using something makeshift is better than a studio barre because you can't grab them. Space is the biggest obstacle. Floors can be also if your house is fully carpeted. One of the benefits of being old is that your kids are gone and you can convert a room into a dance space. Not ideal, but good enough.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I try to do the simpler exercises on the Royal Ballet Full Class video on you tube. I also do a couple of exercises from Finis Jhung's videos plus I practice things I struggle with in class (frappe from sur la coup de pied, petit battements, etc). I

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For my birthday I ordered a barre and had a big mirror fixed on the wall. As I have a wooden floor in my study, it is perfect.

And I often listen to the music on "radio classique" while doing barre exercices.

You have to be very disciplined to work on your own for more than 15 minutes. Sometimes I put my DVD New York city ballet

workout, which is really fine. And on you tube, there are also barre exercices, but I usually do the same exercices as during my class

with my wonderful teacher Claude Paoli.

To have a mirror helps to correct the positions and also tells me when I should be careful about my diet (!!).

Edited by Tatiana
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  • 3 months later...

I use The Joffrey Ballet School's Ballet-Fit warm up/work out. Walking in the neighborhood, some stretching that we learned in class.

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Usually I repeat the barre from the last class I attended, until I attend my next class and repeat the exercises from that one. I do that especially when I can't attend many classes per week. Whether I do something at home or not does make a difference during those times! Nothing compares to actually taking class though.

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Moonlily, i was wondering How you do remember the entire barre set from class? It seems like fragments in my mind! I think if I tried really hard I could sit down with a pencil and jot down the order of it all...mostly i do that for center work, you are so good! Keep up the studies. Fyi I can only attend 1x wk of class.

Edited by Lavande
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Mostly I try to remember it in patterns and then remember what's different, for example 2 demi pliés and then 1 grand plié is such a "basic pattern" which is often the same for various classes. So that part is sort of "set" in my mind, and I only need to remember what's in between those steps - that being the part that is often different each time. Is it a tendu combination, with temps lié, or élevés and some gentle port de bras back? Of course sometimes a part is rather blurred, especially for longer combinations, and then I just make up something else or leave out the part which I cannot remember. However, most of the time it kinda sticks.


The way our teacher gives the combinations also helps with this - they develop into more complicated things as the weeks progress, so I do have the same basic idea, just adding more things each time, or progressing from just a relevé to maybe a quarter turn facing the barre etc., until I get a new basic set after several weeks. That is then mostly all new, but not as complicated as the final product will be in a couple of weeks. ;) If I want something more challenging for my barre at home, I mix in some parts from the previous set of exercises.


Oh and I also remember the things mostly in terms of movement and visuals, not so much in words alone.

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I was discussing practise on my own with my teacher last night (I was the only one who turned up for the repertoire class). She has an eagle eye for errors, but commented that I often self-corrected just as she opened her mouth or looked at what I was doing wrong. She sad that was good, but that the problem with relying on self-correction is that you can practice bad habits as well as good habits!


That's why most teachers suggest that any practice at home is very specific, and simple, and very carefully done. For example, you might want to increase ankle strength or toe flexibility (I'm thinking about those myself at the moment) so you do simple, targeted exercises for those things, rather than a whole barre.

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