Magazine article Dance Spirit

Back Talk

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Back Talk

Article excerpt

STEP AWAY FROM THE BARRE AND HIT THE GROUND TO REFINE YOUR TECHNIQUE WITH FLOOR-BARRE.

Since the 1960s, dancers such as José Limón, Paul Taylor and Lar Lubovitch have honed their ballet technique and improved their alignment with Zena Rommett's Floor-Barre. The technique is based on one simple principle: Working on the floor eliminates the pull of gravity on the body, enabling dancers to concentrate on proper placement during basic ballet-based exercises.

GOODBYE, BARRE

Though the ballet barre is meant to provide balance, dancers often use it as a crutch, grip too hard or twist their torsos, Rommett says. On the floor, students have more control over their alignment.

In Floor-Barre class, dancers lie on their backs or sides and do basic ballet movements-such as coupé, passé and attitude-with feet flexed and pointed, in parallel and turned out. All exercises are performed slowly and methodically. Unlike barre exercises, which are often executed in the same order every class, Floor-Barre usually consists of varied exercises in a different order each time, as the teacher tailors each class to address students' weaknesses, like bent knees or sickled feet.

ZERO GRAVITY

"Because [dancers often are] fighting with tight muscles or bad muscle memory, we revert to old habits to keep our bodies erect," says Victoria Phillips Geduld, a certified Floor-Barre instructor. Lying on a flat surface, however, allows muscles to relax and aligns the shoulders and pelvis with the legs and feet. …

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