Updated: Apr 4, 2019
Lets bust some myths regarding the barre workout. Barre has boomed within the fitness industry over the last 10 years and there are lots of different versions of it so no wonder people are confused as to what it is or isn't, I often hear people say that a class isn't a real barre class because of x/y/z, but what actually constitutes a 'real' barre class? I'm asked on a regular basis about the origins of barre and what a 'proper' barre class is and I guess if I'm being purist regarding the barre method of fitness the 'proper' barre would be the Lotte Berk method, but that isn't a method that I teach, my classes do have some similar exercises but on the whole a Black's Barre class has a very different feel to it, so does that mean my class isn’t barre?.(Maybe my customers are the only people that can answer that)
Barre as a fitness class was originally conceived by German ballerina, Lotte Berk who fled Nazi Germany to the UK in the 1940s and it was here where she developed barre as a way for not only trained dancers to tone, strengthen and increase range-of-motion and flexibility but to also offer non dancing women the opportunity to convene in communities of strength and empowerment inside and out (this I love). The barre within a ballet context is used to help dancers in class develop their strength , flexibility and balance whilst executing a series of exercises often to set music.
As much as I love the concept of the Berk method and have always been in ore of Lotte Berk as a woman and as the pioneer of ballet fitness I never really connected all that much to the practice or the way it was taught (in the class I experienced anyway). It was when I began to create my conditioning class for dancers originally taught to my FE dance students that I started to realise that what I personally wanted from a Barre class was a soul, I didn't want to go to a class that I endured for fitness I wanted to attend a class that worked my body but allowed me to feel the same level of exhilaration, escape and release that I get when I dance, so the hunt begun. I attended classes, online courses and then eventually completed my barre accreditation and have to say I was just underwhelmed at what was on offer and more surprisingly more often than not, classes weren’t even taught by professional dance practitioners.who don't really have the ballet training or knowledge to combine the grace and the beauty of the art form of ballet alongside the conditioning benefits of the practice, and don't get me started on the incorrect use of ballet terminology used in some franchises, So I took the plunge and decided to design my own class.
A class that is ever evolving and becoming more true to me and my practice as time goes on. I design my classes based on my customers needs so the content of the class will vary depending on who's in the room or what has been asked of me prior to the session and although we often work towards a physical goal for a series of classes in order to develop strength, muscle tone and stamina we also do general class just as way to physically check in with our own bodies. What is most important to me as a teacher of Barre is the journey that the people in the room experience, the people that attend my Barre class enjoy the energy and pace of the class as we flow from one discipline to another without it feeling like an 'exercise session' those that attend Centre Barre enjoy the fluidity of the movement, developing their technical skills and getting lost in the movement sequences, in FloorBarre I correct technique and placement whilst developing strength from the mat and Breakfast Barre is designed to get you ready for the day ahead, all 4 of my Barre classes are very different but essentially work towards the same outcome, they all fuse choreographed yoga sequences with ballet barre, contemporary dance and pilates exercises with a shared goal to make you feel fantastic, to allow you the space and time to escape for an hour or more and to help you feel more positive about your own body and what it‘s capable of achieving in the studio and beyond. A lot of women approach me at the end of a class to thank me for helping them to find their inner ballerina even though they know that in a day or two they’ll struggle to get up and down from the toilet as the DOMS set in, they get the mental escape but love the physicality too. My class was once described by a male customer as being ‘Beautifully Brutal’ I couldnt have put it better myself 😁
Breath in, Breath out, Barre on!!!