Yesterday we were beginning a discussion on the Center Floor portion of our ballet class. I like to begin Center Floor work with adagio combinations, but some teachers prefer to begin center floor work with a Center Barre then proceed to adagio combination. I feel that using adagio combination first, in Center Floor work, gives the dancers a different focus instead of just a continuation of the barre that was just completed. Then Center Barre combinations can be added to Center Turning combinations like piourettes and fouttes.
The Center Barre work contains some of the exercises that were done at the barre including tendue and sometimes degage. These exercises no longer serve to warm up various parts of the body, as the you are already warmed up from the barre, but they still will strengthen you, and they are often a bit more complicated than the barre exercises were.
Center Barre gives you practice performing exercises without the barre to test balance. Performing the same exercise in these two settings, at the barre and away from it, gives you a frame of reference of how much a you actually do rely on the barre for support. Center Barre will also give you the personal strength and control you will need to perform these exercises without the barre.
Next I like to give the class a pirouette exercise, or two. These pirouette combinations can be combined with Center Barre as I talked about before or may be done separately. There are several kinds of pirouettes. The most common kind, simply called a pirouette, with the supporting leg straight, and in releve or full pointe, and the working leg has the foot pointed and placed in front of the knee on the supporting leg. The working leg is turned out. Pirouettes can be done turning towards the working leg, which is en dehors, or away from the working leg, which is en dedans.
Fouette turns are sometimes added to a pirouette combination or can be done alone. A fouette is a normal en dehors pirouette but the working leg is carried to the side before you starts to turn. Fouettes are normally done continuously.
Pirouettes are also done with the working leg held out to the side, in second or a la seconde. A la Seconde turns can done as pirouettes, a turn on a releve, or with little hopping jumps. All pirouettes can be done with multiple turns, eleven or twelve turns is not uncommon. You can see Mikhail Baryshinikov do eleven piourettes in the movie White Nights. Clean and perfectly on balance. Take a look at the video clip in the Ballet video section.