We all know that the barre is where you train and refine your technique, and the centre is where you use it to dance. Sometimes putting this knowledge into practice can seem like the impossible, and the move away from the barre feels like a leap of faith. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to trust your technique.
The barre is there to offer support, but ultimately you are learning to use your muscles and build your technique through the combination of steps you are executing. It’s important to rely on your muscles, as this is how you will strengthen your ballet body. It requires mental awareness to notice when you are overusing the barre (hanging on for dear life?!) and to actively correct yourself. Remember that the barre is there as a guide for your balance, not to prop you up!
If you catch yourself with ‘white knuckle syndrome’ then you need to release your barre hand and take control through your body instead. Have distance between you and the barre, organise your weight placement and engage your muscles to stand on your legs. After all, this is what you are hoping to do when you start your centre work. Correct hand placement on the barre leads to a stronger understanding of how to work your technique properly. This is the first step to an excellent relationship with your centre work!
You’ve completed the barre and you’ve stepped into the centre, and it’s as though the work you’ve just put in has somehow been erased from your body! Or has it? It’s easy to feel as though the safety net has disappeared but remember, the safety net is not the barre, but your technique, and it’s important to trust it. Take your barre work with you into the centre and know that the work you’ve put in so far is there, ready to tap into – all of that beautiful barre work doesn’t suddenly delete from your system! Remember that your technique is reliable and available for you to use so that you can dance freely.
Trusting your technique takes practice and requires rewiring your thoughts to believe in your skills. We all continue to strive for improvement in technique, but it’s important not to attempt technique that has not been properly learned from the beginning. An honest relationship with your technique will benefit how you approach your ballet and give you the freedom to truly enjoy your dancing.
This is all very well I hear you say, but what about the ‘off’ days? When your centre feels as though it’s a sinking ship with no available life rafts? Everyone has days like that – when nothing quite feels right and you’re left wondering if anything is improving at all. This is precisely the time to have faith in your technique and allow it to be your springboard. Be strict (and kind!) with yourself, and stand on your legs. It might feel harder, but it’s worth it for the ease that you will find in the centre. Those hard fought for days are the ones that make the other days feel so great!
The centre doesn’t have to feel like a different universe if you remember that your barre work is there to support it. Take your barre work with you into the centre, trust your technique and love every minute of your ballet class!