The traditional classical ballet class consists of a barre followed by a center and across the floor work. In the beginning stages of taking ballet class, this traditional separation is not so noticeable, however, as training continues, the dancer will spend more time center and will need a longer class length.
At the barre, the dancer learns barre exercises, where she will gain strength, balance and technique. During the center portions of the class, the beginner dancer sometimes will return to the barre from time to time to learn and practice steps that will be performed in the center. A binding relationship will exist between the barre and the center in which each depends on the development and strength of the other.
In the beginning ballet class, the time that is devoted to the barre and center change during the dance season, as the dancers gain more ability and confidence to perform center steps and combinations. In the more advanced levels, the dancers need even more time at the barre before coming to center, where as they need to not only warm up properly to prevent injury, but to perfect their technique and heighten their physical strength.
The level of achievement a dancer will gain at the barre will support their center work. The ballet teacher and dancer, should be aware that if barre work appears strong, the center will not always be of the same excellence. The excellence of technique performed at the barre will not be the same quality that the dancer will display in the center.
- The ballet teacher must realize that the repetition of practicing technique in the center will make the dancer’s personal technique stronger
- The ballet teacher should observe the dancer’s work in the center to discover what areas of the barre work needs to be strengthened.
- The ballet teacher should make the center a smooth and manageable step up from the barre and not such a great separation of what is being enforced at the barre. In other words, the advancement of certain steps needs to be made is small portions, not in leaps and bounds.
Beginning dancers need to understand that the barre exercises are the beginnings of their center dance combinations and across the floor work. These little exercises at the barre need to be perfected in what is learned physically and mentally, to prevent sloppyness once in the center. All of these components combined will allow the beginner, intermediate and advanced dancer to learn the language of ballet.
And it all begins at the barre……