Floor Barre

One of my students has a stress fracture in her foot—bless her heart!—but she still comes to class and does what she can while sitting on the floor or laying down with her legs in the air. Sometimes she'll do the releve series on one foot. She's a trooper!

A while back I started giving her private sessions with pilates, conditioning, and floor barre exercises. This has lead to an interesting journey in exploring training methods, and I've found that floor barre has many awesome benefits.

  1. You are forced to use correct alignment. When you're laying on the floor—or sitting up on your sits bones—it is physically impossible to do many steps incorrect, because if you do it wrong, you'll literally fall on the ground. It forces you to do it properly, and work within your turnout and flexibility, which is very good for young dancers who are trying to find their positions.
  2. It develops key muscles. As mentioned above, you're forced to do it right: therefore you're using the muscles you're supposed to be using. Because you don't have a barre to hold or a floor to press into, you have to use isometric muscle movement, which strengthens your muscles in a different way than isotonic. When you get back up off the ground, you'll be able to hit new heights.
  3. It relieves stress on joints. For those of us with chronically bad knees, hips, shoulders, etc. floor barre lets you use your muscles and hit your full extension/strength without compromising your joints. For example, I can do a high developpe to the side without worrying about pronating on my ankle, or popping the knee of my standing leg.
  4. It strengthens your balance. A woman's center of balance is in her hips and torso. Because you're laying on your back, or sitting up on your hips, you're forced to use the correct alignment, therefore you're centered as you should be, and will learn the position quicker. When you stand up, you'll have stronger balance.

    Also, ever lay on one hip with your arms in fifth position and do a developpe to the side? You'd be surprised how hard you have to focus on balance.
  5. It helps with coordination. Try this: lay on your back, and do a fondu and extend to the front. But instead of pointing both legs when you fondu, pointe only the working leg, and flex the "standing" or floor leg. It's more of a brain teaser than you'd expect! When you train your brain to send different instructions to different body parts, that skill transfers to other aspects of dance, like sharp petit allegro and graceful arms, or having the legs move en de hors while the arms move en de dans. It can be done, but you have to stretch your brain.

I'll be posting a series of floor barre videos as soon as I get a chance to film them ;) Meanwhile, check out these videos:

 

 

1 comment:

  1. We do floor barre all the time in my class, and while it's extremely difficult, it DEFINITELY helps!

    ReplyDelete

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