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Learn How the Barre Helps Develop Great Dancers
For every ballet dancer, the barre is as much of a necessity as their ballet shoes. Used for a multitude of stretching and strengthening exercises, the barre is more than just something to support a ballet dancer through each fluid movement. Ballet dancers use it during their slow and repetitive warm-up routine.
Beginning dancers who are starting on pointework find it useful to help strengthen their ankles while professional dancers use it to limber up. The following barre exercises are meant to build strength over time while aligning the body for correct placement.
Plies are the first exercise done in a ballet class at the barre. These movements are done to make the joints, muscles, and tendons soft and flexible. Plies are also helpful to develop a sense of balance.
Tendus are done to articulate the joints and muscles in the feet and ankles to warm up for the remainder of the class. They also help to force the instep outward and to develop the arches.
Degages are an extension of tendus and they help further the development of the instep. This exercise also strengthens the toes and improves flexibility of the ankle joint.
Frappes strengthen the instep and toes. They also help develop the power of elevation.
Rond de Jambe
Rond de jambe a terre works to turn out the legs from the hips and to loosen the hips. It also forces the toe well back and the heel forward. Rond de jambe en l’air is done to turn the legs out from the hips and to keep control of the core for balance.
Developpe and Fondu
Developpe is a great strengthening exercise for the abdomen, legs, and back muscles. It also improves the ability to sustain an extension of the leg in the air. Fondu works the muscles in the legs needed to improve jumping.
Grand battement is the last exercise at the barre and is usually done after a stretching exercise. Grand battement limbers and strengthens the legs and hips. It creates a lightness of the legs useful for steps of high elevation. Grand battement also increases the height of leg extensions.
The barre is also a great way to get back in shape after an injury or absence from dance. No matter how you use it as a dancer, the barre is a vital tool in your dance preparation and actual performance.
About the Author: Amber Heil has worked at Pampos Dance & Swim for over four years and has been a manager for over three years. With 16 years of ballet training, Heil is knowledgeable in other areas of ballet such as forecasting trends in ballet wear and how to find the right ballet shoe. She studied marketing at Louisiana State University (LSU) and graduated in December 2006.