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The mention of ‘barre exercises’ to any ballet student can spark a mixture of memories past and present and the feelings ranging from boredom to exhilaration. It is a fact that the barre exercises are the building blocks of ballet. I and my instructors explain to our students both young and old, the barre is where we break down steps and focus on technique that we eventually use in center work and choreography. Without the fundamentals of technique and body alignment that are practiced at the barre, a student will not find success as a ballet dancer.
But there are times when traditional barre work isn’t appropriate or practical, such as working through injury, or traveling without access to a dance studio or safe support to practice barre exercises or when looking for an additional way to prepare your body before class or in addition to class to strengthen, tone, or warm up muscles in a way that will support the technique performed in class. For each of these situations, a floor barre workout can be the perfect solution.
A good floor barre work out encourages the dancer to concentrate on correct body alignment and techniques that will encourage muscles to work together more efficiency. The floor barre moves though movements of common ballet barre exercises but free from the usual affects of gravity since the dancer is usually performing floor barre exercises lying or sitting on the floor. It may also include core work; sit ups and crunches to work the obliques, pushups or yoga type positions for the upper body and static stretching for increased flexibility. With a floor barre program, the dancer is free from bearing his or her weight of the body and is able to more concentrate on the dancer’s ‘center’ and thereby strengthening the back, pelvis; increasing mobility and rotation, and strengthening the body without stress and tension to major joints such as ankles, knees and hips.
The dancer will feel after a floor barre workout that he or she has engaged every part of the body at some point and the ability to concentrate on movement without stress to the body and muscles allowing the student to push farther and work muscles properly. While a floor barre will never replace the traditional ballet class, it is of great benefit to every type of student at any age or dance level.
Louis McKay is President of North County DanceArts, Inc. located in Carmel Valley and currently trains 400 students from ages 3 to 93 years of age. Louis has performed and taught Master dance and musical theater classes in 42 of our 50 states and Europe and South Africa. In 1980, Louis McKay opened Louis McKay Dance Studio, later to become North County DanceArts, Inc., which is a teaching facility that is best known for its professional teaching staff and quality dance training. Dancers from beginning level to professional are taught technique, terminology, and discipline in a nurturing and fun environment. Louis currently lives in Carmel Valley San Diego with his wife Tanya and is the proud father of four grown children and two grandchildren. Louis and Tanya McKay also own DanceHearts, a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity called Bells of Freedom Program, serves military men, women and their families by providing emergency care and support, back to school backpack program, vehicle donations and the annual “The Big Thank You” Military Holiday Event.