From the very beginning of class, a demi-plie combination in all positions really makes me engage all of my muscles and sets the tone for the class. If I can feel my deep external rotators firing up and turning out my legs from my hips, I will feel more solid and stable in everything that follows. And they just feel good, especially when a simple very open port de bras is added.
2. Very slow tendus.
I prefer to wear socks for the first couple of tendu exercises so I can really work the soles of my feet and articulate my toes. From teaching in dance sneakers, my arches can become very tight and knotted and they tend to cramp a lot so using the floor to massage my foot is extremely helpful. And they just feel good, especially in fifth where I can feel my legs "fit" together from top to bottom.
|Me teaching tendu, not in socks|
3. Degage assemble.
As my legs and hips begin to warm up, I really like the feel of degage assemble with fondu. Both feet coming together in fifth position is solid and contained and the fondu action makes me feel lifted. Here I like how the feet and legs "assemble" as one, with the weight transferring from one foot to two. I like making the pelvic adjustment here because it reminds me to use my abdominals which is crucial for center work when we jump off the floor. And yes, they just feel good.
4. Retire balance en releve.
The one thing I have always been able to count on since I was a kid has been balance, particularly on one leg. Finding a center line has never been a problem for me and when I'm asked to releve in any position, I can usually feel confident that I can do it - and confidence in ballet is very important! Ha! Seriously, though, I love how retire fits in the hip socket, how the turned-out leg is flush from thigh to knee and I like fitting my big toe into the notch just above the knee to "lock" it in place - a good feeling!
5. Developpe a la seconde.
Another thing I can count on is my developpe to the side. This is another one of those natural things for me but note, it wasn't always this way. As I often tell my students, I didn't find this extension until well into my 20s. Until I was an adult I kept using my quads to get my leg up and hold it. Now, I can feel the rotation in both hips as well as the straight line from head to toe through my spine. At barre, I love how it makes me feel taller to extend my leg to the side. Yeah, this feels good too.
|Me teaching an adagio at barre|
My main takeaway from barre? It feels good. That is why I love it. Yes, there are the practical reasons I wrote about previously, but the fact is, exercises at the barre simply feel good to me. I love warming up my spine and neck and feet and hips.
There is a natural endorphin rush with any exercise but there is also the relief that you are still alive, you still can dance, you still can move, you still can express yourself.