Form and/or Function
The barre section serves to warm up, prepare and focus the dancer. With the support of the barre, the dancers move within their own kinesphere, performing material in different directions, e.g. with the right or left side of their body nearest to, or facing, the barre.
The exercises tend to be detailed, practice specific articulations in isolation, using repetiton and variations in different directions to refine technique, memorise the coordinative patterns and develop strength and/or flexibility.
Notes on our approach
Working in a UD informed class we need to address a fundamental question regarding the barre: do all the dancers need to stand at the barre and hold on to it to fulfill the purpose of this section of the class?
This is discussed in more detail in Dance Unstuck Studio Research Methodology – Discussion of form and function for a class section. Also view barre: plié (professional) for other examples.
Researching RAD Grade 2 Ballet material, we explored and discussed individual barre set up for the dancers, looking at facing and side on placements, what mobility aids they would work with and any additional elements (e.g. need for a chair).
When entering the class, the students were asked to set up their barre positions (possibly with the assistance of a dance support worker). Many times their peers standing nearby also lent a hand and positioned equipment. When the dancers grow, change equipment or grade level, this may need to be revisited.
We dedicated a coaching and tutorial session to this process. This allowed each dancer to understand what their preparation for class is, what happens in different parts of the class and how to efficiently change between barre, centre and centre travel. Also see Glossary for: set up for class and mobility devices.