From barre to Bar and back again

Was surprised to see this article posted on DanceAdvantage today: The Skinny on the Bar Method for Ballet Fitness

I have a stack of Bar Method DVDs at home that are gathering dust as we speak. I bought the original DVDs back during my dance hiatus in, oh, 2004 or so. It used ballet, yoga, and pilates concepts to create a workout program? I like all those things! It’ll give me a dancer body? Well, I miss my dancer body! Don’t need any fancy equipment, just a chair and some weights and a belt? That’s my kind of workout program!

And I was a pretty big Bar Method fan in my day. When Burr says, “Do this 3-4 times a week and after 10 times you’ll start to see a change in your body,” man, she’s not kidding! This was one of the few exercise programs that I’ve been able to use and see visible results fast. And I felt good. When she put out new DVDs a couple years ago I eagerly snatched them up. And I was a bit evangelical about them. I got my mom to do the Bar Method, I got one of my coworkers doing it, I gave DVDs to a friend who wanted to tone up for her wedding! I mean, it works!

But, as I said, they are now gathering dust. In fact, last fall I bought two new DVDs and I haven’t done either workout even once! What?! Not only did I not use them, but I ceased to speak of them. I almost felt as though it was sacrilegious for someone who used a barre for actual ballet to speak of “bar-based” workouts, though I had no rational reason for this mentality.

So when I saw that Nichelle had posted an article about ballet and the Bar Method I immediately had to click on over! Burr (the founder of the Bar Method) herself stated that there are very few current dancers in the classes, that it seems to appeal more to former dancers. Back when I was a “former dancer” I did find the whole thing very appealing. Now, as an active dancer? Well, I think Burr is on to something when she states that dancers may fear the Bar Method will change their bodies away from the ideal they are striving for. While I’m not so much concerned about the appearance of my body, I do want it to function at its optimal level (even as a recreational dancer). When I was just doing the hip-hop/contemporary hodge-podge of the dance company I’m in I found value in doing the Bar Method to improve my strength and flexibility. But now that I’m also taking and teaching ballet regularly I am loath to do anything that might throw off the strength & flexibility that I’ve gained in those classes. This isn’t to say that I think the Bar Method is at all dangerous, just that I don’t feel that it’s what I need at this point to improve my technique. If I am going to exercise outside of my dance classes I want to be doing something that I know will help improve my technique.

Lauren Warnecke shared her impressions of the class in the article. She noted that a lot of the ballet-based exercises are done in parallel and with a tucked pelvis, things that we don’t do in ballet. And that may be part of the reason I unconsciously found myself shying away from the Bar Method. I don’t want to be overworking the muscles used when working in parallel, nor do I want to create a bad habit of tucking that I’ll have to work to correct when I’m in ballet.

I pretty much concur with Lauren’s impressions. I would definitely continue to recommend the Bar Method for people (women, especially) who are looking to tone up, increase flexibility, and improve posture. It’s great for those things. But I think for the time being I will be keeping my DVDs in their cases. Maybe I’ll bring them back out during off months to help me keep up some level of fitness. But as a substitute for dance… it worked at one point, but now that I’m no longer a “former dancer”… not so much anymore.

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3 thoughts on “From barre to Bar and back again

  1. Nichelle says:

    Thanks for the mention, Rori! It’s good to read your impressions & experiences are similar and that what we offered over at DA rang true.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hi Rori,

    Thank you for the mention and for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Catherine says:

    Very interesting! Thanks for your insight on this…I was curious about it when I heard it was out. (And Lauren always makes good observations! :))

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