Sports & Games

How to Improve Your Barre Technique

Authored by Misty Copeland

Ballet Dancer

Exercising at the barre prepares you for performances. When you focus more on the quality and less on repetition, your barre work can take an almost meditative quality that will prepare you for the challenges of being a professional dancer.

Method 1 of 4

Warming Up with Pliés

Face the barre in second position.

Focus on engaging your core and getting your hips wrapped and strong. Straighten your knees as much as possible as you push your weight down through your heels. Your shoulders should feel locked in and open.

Did you know?

Facing the barre isn’t just for children! It’s a really good way to work on stability while warming up.

Do very small pliés.

They’ll still warm you up in about 30 seconds. Stay engaged in keeping everything straight and up—each part influences the other. Focus less on repetition and more on the quality of plié.

Push your knees back as you plié.

Be careful not to tuck your hips or arch your lower back—they should remain tight. Lift your chest slightly upward and outward in order to keep your shoulders pushed back slightly.

Plant your heels and fully straighten your legs.

Don’t shift your weight to the balls of your feet—this will cause you to fall out of alignment and lose your balance.

Did you know?

A plié is one of the most important ballet movements and should be treated as such, with no frivolous movement or drops. Keep your body engaged and connected throughout.

Method 2 of 4


Begin in first position and use your shoulders to stay symmetrical.

Engage your lat muscles—that will keep your shoulders down and your chest slightly lifted up and out.

Did you know?

If you’re hyperextended, don’t force your feet together. Instead, keep a small space between your heels and correctly align your body.

Extend your leg.

First by pushing through your heels, then the ball of your foot, and finally by pointing your toes.

Did you know?

Wearing socks instead of ballet slippers allows you to feel the floor and also articulate your feet. They also do not hold tension in your insteps or toes.

Take a moment to stretch, then continue on both sides while slightly increasing speed.

Work to stay stationary. Shift or move as little as possible within the hips. These exercises might be exhausting at first, but correct placement leads to more stamina, because you’ll be utilizing less energy to move.

Method 3 of 4

Temps Lié

Begin with demi-pliés, pushing your knees back as they bend.

This will keep them pointed in the same direction as when your legs are straight.

Check your alignment.

Shoulders down, middle back engaged, core in and up, glutes tightened, and legs straight.

Lift your leg, keeping both legs fully straight.

Push down on your standing heel. Fight the urge to shift side to side. Instead, press your shoulders downward and keep your back and core engaged, moving as one unit.

Did you know?

You can keep your hands lightly on the barre, but don’t grip it or rely on it for balance.

Repeat, going front to back instead of side to side.

Push through on your standing heel as you tendu forward, then tighten your glutes and back muscles as you tendu back. Your hips should remain square to the barre.

Come to fourth position before the next plié.

Keep your knees pointed outward as you plié. Your hips should be turned out.

Did you know?

Training equally on both sides will prevent you from favoring one side over the other.

Method 4 of 4

Ronds de Jambe

Circle your leg and pass through first position.

Don’t let your leg cross your center line, or heel. This provides stability and better control of your hips. Keep your thighs and glutes tight so you don’t sit in your standing hip.

Move from à la seconde through écarté and back to arabesque.

This can be challenging, so be sure to keep both hips still and square to the barre.

Turn outward.

Keep your shoulders, back, hips, and legs in unison. No one piece should lead the other.

Record your technique and review.

This will eventually feel like second nature, but for now, reviewing your warm-ups and practices will set you up for consistent and balanced arabesques.

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MSCHF Drop #27
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