Every ballet class begins at the barre, a wooden support attached to the walls of ballet studios. Ballet dancers use the barre for balance while performing several ballet steps. Exercises done at the barre are the foundation for all the other ballet exercises. When performing at the barre, rest your hands lightly on the barre for balance. Try to keep your elbows relaxed.
Barre almost always starts with plies. Plies are performed at the barre because they stretch all the muscles of the legs and prepare the body for the exercises to follow. Plie's train the body in shape and placement. Plies should be performed in in all of the 5 basic positions of ballet. There are two kinds of plies, demi and grand. In demi plies, the knees are bent halfway. In grand plies, the knees are completely bent.
Eleve is another step often performed at the barre. Eleve is simply a rise onto the balls of the feet. Similarly, a releve is a rise onto the balls of the feet from a plie position. Practicing eleves and releves at the barre will help strengthen your legs, ankles and feet. They are considered one of the building blocks of dance, and one of the first movements taught in a beginning ballet class. Practice eleves in all five positions of ballet.
3. Battement Tendu
A battement, easiest when performed at the barre, is a type of exercise in which the working leg opens and closes. There are several different types of battement. A battement tendu is an exercise in which the foot is stretched along the floor, ending in a point. Battements tendus help warm up the legs, build leg muscles and improve turnout. A battement tendu can be performed to the front (devant), to the side (à la seconde), or to the back (derriére).
4. Rond de Jambe
Rond de jambe is another popular exercise often performed at the barre. A rond de jambe is performed by making a semi-circular motion with the working foot on the floor. A rond de jambe is performed in order to maximize turnout and increase flexibility of the hips. This movement can either be performed with the working foot on the floor or in the air. When the circle begins in the front and moves to the back it is called a rond de jambe en dohrs
. On the other hand, when the circle begins in the back and moves to the front, it is referred to as a rond de jambe en dedans