For the longest time, I was a hot mess when it came to doing barre combos in the center. Part of it was my ankle/knee instability but eventually, there were many barre bad habits I had that I was completely unaware of until I really scrutinized what I was doing at the barre. Since correcting those habits, my center work has become a hundred time better. So today I'm gonna talk to you through some bad habits you might be making at the barre and how to fix them.
Leaning on the Barre
This is one of the most common dance mistakes to make. A dancer will grip the barre so hard that they're practically on top of it and it's only to make them look more flexible and such. That's why so many teachers have the "four fingers on the barre" rule. To teach you to not rely on the barre so much. All of your strength needs to come from your back and core, not the barre if that makes sense. Think of the barre like a partner, it's there for you when you need it.
If you think you may have this problem, check your hand position when at the barre. Your thumb shouldn't be underneath the barre but on top of it instead. And avoid holding the barre in the "death grip" aka a claw. You should have a very light touch on the barre as if you were playing the piano.
And every so often, test your balance while at the barre by letting go of it for an eight-count or so.
If you have trouble letting go, do some core workouts, which will stabilize your whole body and will greatly improve your balance. Over depending on the barre can actually weaken your core, and therefore, your whole body.
Pic from YDC's Broadway Bound master class with Mackenzie Conway.
(From L to R: me, Dana, Reese, Audrey and Lauren).
Standing at the barre can greatly camouflage improper body alignment. Even though the barre is there, you have to be able to stand up as if you’re in the center. Again, core strength will help with this. Another way to fix this is to regularly videotape yourself at the barre to make sure that your spine is straight and that shoulders are over your hips, while you’re working at the barre. Also if your class is big enough to use barres in the center of the room, try doing barre there, just once to see what your alignment looks like.
You also want to make sure you're not crowding the barre, which can skew your alignment as well. To promote proper placement of the arms and shoulders, there should be one person’s distance between you and the barre. Your arms should be only slightly bent and there should be enough space for you to tendu a la seconde with the foot closest to the barre. If your foot touches the wall, you're too close to the barre.
Forcing Your Turnout
Some dancers can force a perfect 180° turnout in 5th position with the barres support but can't do it in the center. Forcing your turnout can lead to all kinds of knee problems, plus it is incorrect technique. Once should always work with their natural turnout, especially at the barre which will help you in the center. 90° is enough. Make sure your pinky toes are on the floor and your arches aren’t dropped forward. If you’re feeling pressure in your ankles or knees, that’s a sign that you're forcing your turnout. (Remember, turnout comes from your hips, not your knees).
If you're having trouble finding your natural turnout, think about working your legs in opposition. That’s how you hold true rotation, by feeling the resistance between right and left, up and down, from the tops of your hips to your feet. Push into the floor, rotate, engage your back, lock, and load.
Dancers from Utah Dance Center working on a combination.
I really hope this post helped you all. If it did please give it a +1 on Google+, follow me on all my social media sites which will be linked below and leave me a comment below what you like better, barre or center? See you all next week!
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