October 1, 2016

Barre at Local Motion Part 1: Teacher interviews

When I  decided to add barre to the mix of classes at Local Motion Studio,  I wanted dance eduction to be a large part of the format– the methodical repetition to understand movement, the meticulous reflection and revision of movement,  and the understanding of quality of movement as it applies to each exercise. I wanted to make sure there was an understanding of anatomy, biomechanics, kinesthetic awareness, and art- at various levels, that is inseparable from dance.

Dance training was as important an element to these classes as an understanding of contraindications for prenatal and postpartum woman. My instructors must understand what diastasis is, and how to avoid worsening it with abdominal exercises that are unsuitable for women who are expecting or have given birth recently.

I hired teachers that are trained dancers and we talked about a format that would bring in some of the tenets of a well rounded dance education, keep it fun and take care of our prenatal and postpartum women. We came up with this format: A warm up, barre (that gets you ready for the center), center,  across the floor and a mat section at the end. We pulled from the format of a ballet class, and mix in Pilates, modern dance, floor barre and yoga as the teacher sees fit. So many of these modalities speak the same language, we just needed to translate it into a format that worked for us.

We correct, we explain, we stop. Each teacher brings their own expertise to the class. No class is cookie cutter, nor is the language that we use. You can take barre several times a week at Local Motion and have a new experience in each one. I will guarantee you will learn something in each one. As you will read in the following interview, each teacher has their own voice, and it is showcased just as clearly in their classes.

How would you describe your approach to barre classes?

Lee Anne: I try to have a theme for every class. Something like balance or alignment. Sometimes its a specific posture like passé or arabesque and I mold the exercises to fit the theme.

Tess: I try to keep things moving so that people stay engaged, and do a good mix of slower isometric exercises and cardio for a full body workout.
Breanne: I try to bring ballet into my barre classes and incorporate the fundamentals of dance technique. I think often times people are intimidated by the idea of ballet or dance in general, and using a barre class to bridge the gap between dance and familiar workout moves allows people to start exploring movement in different ways.  I think this is what makes our barre classes different from most others; taking barre from trained dancers brings a whole new way of moving and working out to the class.

What do you want your students to walk away with after class?

LeeAnne: I want them to feel stronger, taller and more confident because they tried something different or reached a new level.
Tess: I want my students to feel like they got a strength and cardio workout, and had fun!
Breanne: I want my students to feel like they got a good workout and  learned or experienced something new. Most importantly, I want them to leave feeling fulfilled and happy. I hope the joy I get from movement not only comes through in my classes, but is contagious as well.

What do you find students struggle with the most in this format if they have not had formal dance training?

LeeAnne: I think ballet posture is the most difficult. Most people don’t hold their upper carriage as high as dancers do. Also across the floor always makes them nervous but it’s SO good for you!
Turnout and ability to isolate body parts
I think that the hardest part for students that haven’t had formal dance training is some of the coordination, so repetition is key, not only in the exercises, but the class as well. I provide modifications for more complex exercises.  I realize some of  the movements are new to many, so  building upon smaller ideas and taking the time to explain them helps.

If someone is new, how do you make them feel comfortable in class?

LeeAnne: I tell them to stop me at anytime. I’m not in class to get a workout. I’m there to teach. Also when they do something correct I always encourage them
Tess: I give them options for modifying at the beginning of class, like making movements smaller
Breanne: Every time I have a new student I introduce myself right away and ask them some questions about their experience with barre or the studio itself. I give a brief description of my barre class and ask them to please let me know of any questions, comments, or concerns they may have throughout class. During class I try to give everyone a correction or acknowledgment to make them feel comfortable each time. In general I want to establish a very open and welcoming environment.

What would you say are the benefits to our barre classes?
LeeAnne: It’s a great new way to challenge your body and strengthen muscles you don’t use in other practices. Plus you can brag its kind of like a dance class 😉
Tess: The comment I get the most is that people really enjoy class and it flies by.
Breanne: I think that barre was designed to be a workout inspired by dance, yet many places don’t have dancers instructing these classes. The way our classes benefit from having trained dancers as instructors is amazing. Clients with dance training benefit by getting quality cross training that won’t interfere with their technique, but will enhance it and/or help them connect with dance in a new facet, and non-dancers get to move in new and exciting ways, and reap the benefits of professional dance training. Making our barre fun and literally for everyone!

Look for our next installments where we will showcase each instructor with video illustrating some of the the things we work on in class.

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