Ballet Barre Exercises

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Let's talk about Ballet barre exercises.

If you've been following our guide, you will have mastered what the barre is for.  Your posture is good and you are getting the hang of the basic Ballet positions.

It's about time you started some dancing!

Now just follow the photo guide for four of the most popular Ballet barre exercises to do at home or in class, starting with the easiest one.

(If you need a little help with pointing your toes, see our guide here.)

Remember what you've learnt about using the barre - or the back of a chair if you're doing this at home...

Relax, think about your posture and where your weight is. 

And if possible, do these in front of a full length mirror so you can get your lines right and make sure you look like a dancer.

Ballet Barre Exercise ~ Tendu

Ballet Tendu Front

Tendu Front

Slowly slide your foot out from 3rd position until just your pointed toes are in contact with the floor. Then return your foot to 3rd.

Ballet Tendu Side

Tendu Side

Next, slide your foot out to the side, pointing so that your toes are touching the floor. When you return your foot to 3rd position, close it at the back of your supporting leg.

Ballet Tendu Back

Tendu Back

Now, with your working leg at the back of your supporting leg, slide your leg out directly behind you and point.

Ballet Barre Exercises ~ Dégagé

Ballet Degage Front

Degage Front

This is rather like the Tendus that you've just practised. The difference is that, instead of keeping your pointed foot in contact with the floor, this time your will lift your pointed foot off the floor by a few inches.

Ballet Degage Side

Degage Side

Try the same movement out to the side, and point off the floor. When you return your foot to 3rd position, close it at the back of your supporting leg.

Ballet Degage Back

Degage Back

Finally, with your working leg at the back of your supporting leg, slide your leg out directly behind you, point and raise off the floor.


Ballet Barre Exercises ~ Grande Battements

Ballet Grande Battement Front

Grande Battement Front

This is taking the Degage to the next level. You're going to be doing a slow kick up to roughly hip height, keeping your leg perfectly straight out in front of you. Keep everything apart from your working leg perfectly still and your back straight.

Ballet Grande Battement Side

Grande Battement Side

Try the same movement out to the side. Again, keep your hips squarely facing the front, your back straight and everything still and balanced. Kick to the side slowly. Close your working leg behind your supporting leg, in 3rd position.

Ballet Grande Battement Back

Grande Battement Back

The last one is to the back. It's very important to keep your upper body still for this one – the overwhelming desire will be to tip forwards. But try to keep your back as upright as possible and kick up slowly to the back.

Ballet Barre Exercises ~ Plié

Ballet Plie Demi 1st Position

Demi Plie in 1st

In 1st position, with your arm out to 2nd, keep your back straight. Now bend your knees out to the side, keeping them in line with your feet.

Ballet Plie Full 1st Position

Full Plie in 1st

Now, continue bending your knees until your heels come off the floor and you can't bend any further. To complete the look, bring your arm down to 1st. Don't forget to keep your back perfectly straight.

Ballet Plie Demi 2nd Position

Demi Plie in 2nd

Now, you are going to repeat the above Ballet barre exercise, but this time from 2nd position. So with feet and your arm in 2nd, and a beautifully straight back, bend your knees out to the side. As for the 1st position version, keep your knees over your feet.

Ballet Plie Full 2nd Position

Full Plie in 2nd

Continuing your bend, you should aim to get your thighs parallel with the floor – but don't worry if you can't quite reach this just yet. Your arm down in 1st will complete the look.

You've now mastered the basic Ballet steps - quite an achievement. 

Next, time to go into a little more detail...

› Ballet barre exercises