Like I said earlier, my brief time as a three year old ballerina left me with very few skills when it comes to ballet. I didn't realize that there are specific postures and poses that even the most amateur ballerina (or practitioner of barre) needs to know.
Like most exercise programs, you need to pay close attention to the positioning of your body in order to gain the full benefit from the workout, and to avoid injury! Here is a breakdown of the basic techniques you need to know for a barre workout!
"Ballet Barre Technique:
Standing: Always try to keep your spine in a perfectly straight line. Always. No matter what movement you are doing, your back should be “flat”. This involves constantly using your abdominal muscles to “tuck” and hold your tailbone in, so that your back is not arched in a curve.
Jumping: Anytime a barre exercise involves jumping or hopping, keep one thing on your mind: Silence. You should aim to make absolutely zero ‘thumping’ sounds when you jump and land on the floor. This means keeping your heels slightly up, and engaging your calf, ankle and foot muscles on each landing to break your fall.
Turn out: “Turning out” in dance means rotating your legs so that your feet point outwards to opposite corners. This is an entire leg position, not just for the feet, as your knees should also be pointing in the same direction as your toes. Avoid “rolling in” (putting weight on the inside of your feet), as that is bad for your knees, and instead keep your weight uniformly distributed across the bottom of each foot.
Legs and toes: Whenever a leg or foot leaves the ground, you should be keeping your knee straight and your toes pointed. Straight knees and pointed toes are what make the beautiful, clean lines of dance. Pointing your toes should be an activity within itself, as you should be working your calves and ankles to point your toes as hard as possible, each and every time.
Plié: This means to bend your knees and lower yourself slightly towards the ground, while keeping your heels on the floor. A “grand plié” is a deeper bend in which you slowly raise your heels as you descend towards the floor until your thighs make contact with your calves.
Relevé: This means to engage your calves and raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, bringing your heels off of the ground (aka “stand on your tippy-toes”). Your legs should stay straight in relevé unless otherwise instructed."