In the column tools of the trade: Ballet, I introduce a bunch of items that dancers use on a regular basis. Earlier, I’ve mentioned things like pointe-shoes, dance-belts, clothing, even studio-floors. I just realized, I’ve let out one of the iconic symbols of the ballet dancer: The barre.

The Barre © Daniel Bolla. All rights reserved

The barre is a long, often wooden bar that goes along the wall in a ballet studio, or standing separately on legs, like the one on the picture. It has no fancy features, no high-tech materials or uses, still it is essential to any ballet dancer, every day.

In life as a professional dancer, every day starts with a class, repeating elements from the classical ballet technique used in any ballet performance. That class starts with barre-exercises. The dancer (gently!) supports him- or herself on the barre while doing warm-ups and placement exercises, preparing him (or her, but let’s stick to the male grammar, just to make it easier) for the twists, turns, jumps and all what awaits him in the center exercises. The idea is to fix placement and prepare the body, strengthen and stretch the muscles, while providing the dancer the ease to focus completely on technique, since the balance part is simplified by holding the barre. This does not mean the dancer is not able to do the same exercises without the barre. It is simply a tool (of the trade!) to help us achieve the best possible result as we leave the barre and goes to the center of the room, to dance!

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