November 18, 2012

My Barre-Spot

Note to self: working leg needs to be slightly more to the front.
That will drop the hip down and improve turn-out.

There it is, my spot at the barre. I take it without even thinking about it, and so far I've never had to chase anyone away. Not that I would.. Okay, not entirely true. When we still had class in our bigger studio, my spot was at the short end - and because the piano was against the same wall, there was only room enough for one. At least when class was not over-crowded. I was very attached to that barre-spot, and everyone else had their places marked too. But occasionally there was a drop-in student who went straight for my spot (even though I already had my water bottle in place), and I just had to let her know. "I'm sorry but this is my place." I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it, even though lots of dancers are known to be quite territorial about their barre spots!

Earlier on, I used to change places fairly often to get different views in the mirror (or no views). But, when you have the same crowd coming to class it all kind of settles into a routine. And it's nice and it feels a bit like coming home. I like my spot at the barre because there's no one in front to distract me. Which also means there's no one to copy from, so I really have to pay attention! I gotta tell you, there have been a few times when I've regretted being first in line. Ever had total black-outs right after you said "no" to the "any questions?"

I like having a bit of a familiar routine in class, but there are drawbacks to being stuck on the same spot.  Like in my Tuesday class. Our teacher does her demonstrations in front of me (I make room), and then begins her barre-round with me. Which means I frequently get corrected during my first plié, but almost never mid- or end-exercise. I don't think my teacher has ever seen me doing cambrés in seconde, up in relevé. I have pretty good balance, and it's something she might note. Or correct, if needed. Although, sometimes when an exercise ends in a difficult balance, and she hasn't seen everyone do it, she will have you do it again. And check the entire barre.

Still, I think I might benefit from an occasional change of barre-spots. Question is, who will trade theirs with mine? And can I have mine back afterwards?


Midway through fondues.. Hang on, it was fondue devant, close to fifth,
then degagé with the back leg into low arabesque, close again and
continue with fondues a la seconde. Possibly.

33 comments:

  1. So true :) I never realised but we all have our spots at the barre in our class too!
    But Im also worried as I "dropped in" to a class in London this week and guess I must have stolen somebody's place :O

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    1. Don't worry about it! :) Unless that somebody had already marked her spot (water bottle, ballet bag, etc), you're safe. And not everyone is that attached to their spot.

      What I find really annoying is when someone (a late-comer) is trying to squeeze in, even when there's more room left at another barre. Once, I took my end-barre spot so that I could see myself in the corner mirror (when doing to the left). To the right, there was room for at least three more, but one lady insisted I should move - so she could copy from me!

      Another time, I headed to my spot but saw that a girl from the previous lower level class had stayed on. No big deal, I took another spot. Into the second exercise, the new girl figured out that being first in line was too difficult for here, so we all changed places again. Even though we're not supposed to copy, it makes for a smoother barre to have secure girls at the front.

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  2. It is a very bad habit to have the same spot at the barre year in and year out: teacher always sees you the same way; and you will not improve. The ones allowed for the same spot are the principals in a company. And in this perspective, if it is an open class in a dance school it is just rude to tell another student to step aside.

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    1. "It is a very bad habit to have the same spot at the barre year in and year out: teacher always sees you the same way; and you will not improve."

      Hmm.. I agree that it's good to change spots, which I also wrote in my post. But I don't think it's a "very bad habit", my teachers are smarter than that! :)

      "The ones allowed for the same spot are the principals in a company."

      It's common that everyone in a company has their prefered spots, not just the prinicipals. But it's not written in stone.

      "If it is an open class in a dance school it is just rude to tell another student to step aside."

      We are an open school, which means that you can take drop-in classes. But most of us have signed up for our classes, so it's a regular crowd. When you are a new/drop-in student, it's common courtesy to check that you're not invading someone's space. My spot is usually the last to be occupied, as many find it unnerving to be first in line, right in front of the teacher.

      In that one instance, when I asked the new girl "to step aside", I had already placed my stuff at the barre. I did not come in after her, and there was plenty of space left at the other barres. She was literally squeezing in front of me.

      But I do not condone such barre behaviour where you would come in late, and then ask someone to leave and have the entire barre adjust to your barre-spot. Now, that would indeed been rude. And yes, I've seen it happen.

      It would also be nice to sign your comments here, especially when you are being critical. Just saying. :)

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  3. I was just thinking about this the other day in class. There's no chance of getting a "new" spot because dancers usually go to the same spot. The same happens in a regular classroom. Most people go to the same seat. I'd love to rotate around but at the same time, I don't want to be rude and steal another's spot. Plus, I like being able to see myself in the mirror during barre. The dancer's on the opposite side don't have that advantage of a mirror. We have windows on the opposite sides so the little ones can see their parents outside. :)

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    1. I just realised that I have a regular seat even on my bus commute! :D I guess we are all creatures of habit.

      Maybe, if you talked to one of you classmates? Perhaps someone else would like to change their spot too..

      From where I stand at the barre, I can't see myself in the mirror - except when we are doing exercises en face. And I'm not that crazy about looking myself in the face ;) For me, the most important thing is that I'm first on one side, which makes me focus better. I could of course switch, as there are six barre-ends in total. But then I would invade someone else's favorite place!

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    2. I don't like looking at my face at barre either! Haha!

      I, too, always go to the same seat for my college courses. I get clautrophobic in the middle of a classroom.

      I just bought a Vita Vibe barre a few weeks ago from Amazon. I bought the double barre that's 4 ft. wide. It's really helped me out since I can start barre from different sides. It's a tad wobbly but it helps me focus and keep balance. For $120 USD it's given me a lot more confidence.

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  4. Due to my schedule I'm always late and have officially lost my spot in class :( I totally understand the feeling. But I'm definitely feeling more challenged since I can't see anyone in front of me.

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    1. Sometimes I take class at another studio, and where you get to stand depends on how early you are. And even that changes as more people keep pouring in and you have to move closer to make room. At my own school, my classes are usually last, so we rush in as the previous group walks out. No extra time is allotted for changing "shifts", so it's best that everyone heads straight to their places, instead of pondering where to stand that day. Nor would there be any time for the teacher to rotate spots, as some do (probably more with children and younger students). So far, it has worked well enough.

      I'm glad you're getting challenged! :)

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  5. One of our teachers has us move forward one place at the barre after each exercise. I quite like this as it has helped to wean me off my preferred spot! There are times though when I simply must have my place, understand completely.

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    1. I think that's a good idea. I could see that work with several of my classes. Except for Tuesdays, which is way too crowded (we have an extra "playpen" barre in center).

      By the way, I do have a different barre spot in my Friday pointe class. Makes for a nice change :)

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  6. I also have a favorite barre spot, and like you, I pick the end of the barre where there is no one in front of me because I also like to be in the position of having to remember the combination with no visual cues or inadvertent "copying". Since I started positioning myself that way, I feel like my mental acuity for picking up combinations has improved significantly. But this is in my "syllabus class" where I am working at my current level. If I take an open class with more advanced dancers, I just fit myself in wherever there is room and try to find someone whose movement quality or technique I admire and try to copy in the good way...I want some of that to rub off on me! There was a woman in one of my class who had the most beautiful flowing port de bras and I made sure I was near her so that I could try to imitate that and groove it into my body.

    Sometimes I like being in a spot where there is no mirror so that I have to FEEL where my body is placed rather than relying on visual cues. One of my teachers has us face the back of the room ("the audience") in centre from time to time for the same reason. It seems to be a struggle to balance the comfort and quality of routine with enough disruptions to challenge your habits :)

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    1. I know what you mean.. It's like practicing a foreign language with a native speaker. The last time I took open class I kept my eyes on a beautiful professional dancer, and tried my best to imitate some of her qualities. In my own class, our teacher is The Dancer you want to copy every move from, but of course she doesn't dance with us.

      Some (vocational) schools have drapes/curtains in front of the mirror, which I think is a brilliant idea. They are not drawn for every class, but once in a while and especially for rehearsals. If I had a school of my own, I would definitely hang those curtains! Like you said, it's important to feel your correct placement - and that doesn't come from being glued to the mirror. Also, looking down at your feet ruins your line.. But it's hard to let go of that visual aid! :)

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  7. We all have a favorite spot in my regular class. Mine is facing the mirror head on which helps me keep my chin up but not my tail down. And then my back is to the mirror for the other side! When I drop into other places I make a point to place myself alongside the mirror to get a different perspective -- I think that's helpful especially if you are still in the earlier stages of learning :)

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    1. Lisa, good pointe! If you never see yourself in profile, you might not realise how much work needs to be done with pulling abs in and tails down.. :) It's also good for checking that your knees are stretched in arabesque (and legs turned out). But eyes to the mirror only when the épaulement (or port de tête) calls for it. ;)

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    2. "Good pointe" with an 'e' - I like how your mind and your fingers switch automatically to ballet, Johanna! ;)

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    3. Hahahaa! I swear it was accidental! :D Can't really help it with this blog, though I do try.. ;)

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  8. You're very brave to stand up front! I like to hide, in the back :) I don't have a "spot" though. I just try to find an empty spot in the back where I can concentrate and not feel like I'm in the spotlight yet be able to work on what I want to work on for that day.

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    1. Jennifer, sometimes I feel like that too.. But in our studio there are really no spots to hide in. :D Except of course in center. You could always stay in the back there, and sometimes I do.

      But don't be afraid of the "spotlight"! :)

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  9. Unfortunately, most people in my classes have roughly the same spot, so to radically change where I stand (which would be kind of exciting) would mean stealing somebody's place. I also noticed that people get different corrections when they are in a different spot.
    Usualy, I am somewhere in the middle. When I don't feel too tired, I like the end spots, too. Facing a wall, I dare to show more expression.

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    1. You could talk about it before class. Maybe there are more students who would be wiling to change spots, even occasionally? Like you said, people get different corrections depending on where they stand/dance.

      And don't be afraid to show expression, no matter where you are placed! Our teacher told/corrected us last time because we were not "alive" in our expression. Even when you are doing a simple barre exercise, it's still a dance. Do it big, and show some personality in your face. Let your eyes sparkle. Your teacher ought to love it too. And you know what? When you dance with an expressive upper body, it changes your entire technique for the better!

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    2. Thanks Johanna, and I know, I know. I wish I had your wonderful teacher! My main teacher never corrects our expression, or lack thereof. I don't know if she is complacent or jealous or just doesn't care. The others don't even think about it, seemingly. And I just REALLY want to, but if you're the only one, and are fat besides, it takes courage!

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  10. I used to float around the barre, generally aiming for a middle spot (mirrors in our studio are not along the bar - they're in front of you when standing at the barre), but when we started working on preparing for our exam that changed. I'm 2nd shortest, so I'm 2nd from the front. Now I hate it when I'm further back!

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    1. That's interesting. We have never been placed according to length, but of course you would do the same in a performance. For now, you have to adjust - which can be annoying (I know!). But perhaps you can switch barre spots after your exam?

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  11. I really like this blog and itsallaboutdanceblog.blogspot.com

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  12. OMG I like itsallaboutdanceblog.blogspot.com and this one too! Good job Johanna you're very inspiring.

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    1. Are you by any chance plugging a new blog, perhaps your own? That's fine, I always like to know what's new out there. But don't be shy to sign your comments - and please, one shout-out is plenty :)

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    2. It's someone else's blog, but it's really good.

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    3. Yours is good, too!

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  13. Hey Johanna!

    I absolutley love your blog! I just wanted to ask you for some tips regarding correct placement in my body. I have this problem where I lift my chest and "throw" myself backwards when I'm asked to "pull up".. (Sounds dramatic, but It's actually details) My teacher is constantly telling me this and I truly try so hard to correct myself. But I know I do it wrong because It doesn't "feel" right, and I get comments on It all the time. I think about it so much and still I just can't manage to find the correct placement. You seem so experienced and confident that I wanted to ask you :)
    I want to talk to my teacher, but honestly, I am a bit afraid of her.. I know that's stupid, because she loves us all, but she can be really strict. But I know that's because she wants us to work hard and become good dancers.
    If you have any tips I would be very happy!
    Thank you

    (P.s)I see some people that are "sharp"/rude in their comments here on your blog.. Do not care about them, they are probably just jelaous! You have an amazing blog! Truly inspiring!

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    1. Thank you :) But, I'm sorry for my slow answering.. I have been busy moving into a new apartment!

      First, please don't be afraid of asking your teacher. Like you said, she wants you all to become better dancers. The thing is, not every correction works equally well for every dancer.. You might need another approach, or another image to help you with. It also takes time to learn new ways of aligning your body. It might feel like you just can't get it right NOW - but that will change. That's why teachers keep repeating the same corrections over and over. They know ballet is hard work and progress often slow. So, please let her know that you're struggling and eager to learn. Teachers usually respond well to motivated students. :)

      Having said that, think about lifting your sternum, not your chest. Push your shoulders down (while keeping your back open), elongate your neck and close your ribcage. Our teacher tells us to keep our weight slightly forward, and our bodies long. Make sure that your tailbone is pointed down, and your core strong. You need to breath, but so that your ribcage is not visibly expanding. Madame also tells us to "present our jewelry", which means we should imagine wearing gorgeous diamond necklaces. :)

      Hope these tips are helpful!

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    2. Thank you very much!:D

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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