FLOOR BARRE
BA in theatre

by Maria Zaxaropoulou

The Floor Barre or Barre A Terre, constitutes an alternative system, to safely train the body, on the floor. It comprises the technique for ballet training modified for use with exercises done on the floor.

The Floor Barre or Barre A Terre, constitutes an alternative system, to safely train the body, on the floor. It comprises the technique for ballet training modified for use with exercises done on the floor. Its goal is to achieve and acquire through this system the correct posture of the body, while at the same time limiting wrong and unnecessary movements. Thereby achieving stability of movement and the technique for one of the most demanding and effective forms of training for ballet, without risk of injury.

Dancers, both professional and amateur, achieve balance with ease, at the same time they correct their en déhors and, maintain the body muscle tone, even during the duration of rehabilitation from traumatisms or vacation. It is a proven tool for the dancer during the whole period of their professional life.

Another dimension of the Barre a Terre method is its therapeutic aspect as regards traumatisms, it helps to shorten off time, reacquiring of good body tone in post birth period, post surgery for traumatisms, as well as reducing the possibility of new injuries to the same parts, while at the same time giving excellent results in maintaining and increasing muscle tone, including the injured parts. It’s advised for lumbago, muscle contraction problems in neck and upper back area, sprains and other serious injuries.

The Floor Barre is helpful in acquiring, maintaining body tone and suppleness, it exercises the various muscle groups and is an  excellent aid in learning to know ones body.

The Floor Barre is directed to dance teachers, making available to them a wide ranging variety of tools for use in the class, for children who are beginning ballet, as a warm up method before starting ballet class, for dancers and various professionals and

Amateurs, who benefit from the corrections it enables them to achieve in perfecting their various techniques. It also helps pregnant women to keep in form as well as preparing them with the correct breathing necessary for the birth process and use of the muscles. It helps those with muscle problems, teachers and students of martial art techniques, as they acquire greater opening and flexibility.

Maria Fays Floor Barre system was developed by her, after sustaining injuries that obliged her to stop activities and left her with a need to keep up her body muscle form and tone, even though injured. “Dance can give therapy to Dance….   dancers need activity, not inactivity”. Maria Fay after helping Christina Beskou, recover from a severe knee injury, much sooner than expected, entrusted Christina Beskou, to with exclusive world rights, teach her method, the Floor Barre. Initially this was directed exclusively to dancers, when non dancers discovered her classes and what it did for their bodies, and the results they derived, such as training without injury and damage, it took hold and quickly became a requested activity by them.

For the Floor Barre, we have available to us the book by “Maria Fay’s Floor Barre”, which comprises the effort by the choreographer and dancer to systematize her experience and put it in an editorial form.

Aided by 150 photographs and sketches, she presents us with 280 exercises. Within these exercises she includes basic postures for the body, warm up exercises, exercise based on classical ballet, with influence from Yoga, Pilates, tone-up up exercises. Special emphasis is given to correct breathing technique, as well as presenting us with beginners, intermediate and advanced sample classes.

The book begins with an introduction by Maria Fay, in which she explains the development of the Floor Barre, and a parallel description of the infrastructure and reason for being of the method.

The 2nd part deals with the basic positions, general and practical information, basic leg and feet positions, basic body positions and basic arm positions, together with sketches and pictures of the exercises. The 3rd part explains with the same analytical form warm up exercises, followed by the 4th part of the Floor Barre, detailing Floor Barre exercises. The 5th and last part deals with 3 sample classes for, beginners, intermediate and advanced students, wherein are contained exercises described in the previous chapters of the book.

The basic participants in the book are the choreographer and dancer Christina Beskou and the dancers Josephine Jewkes and Angela Taylor. The first representing for Maria Fay, the perfect example of the correct body posture and the absolute harmony needed to achieve and develop the difficult and correct control of every movement in the exercises (Frank Freeman, Safe Dance Practice, The Dancing Times, March 2004, page 57) presenting with exact control the exercises created by Maria Fay. The second created the sketches and the third took the photographs.

As a reinforcement for the book there is  a videocassette with 3 demonstration classes, for the beginners, intermediate and advanced levels, with explanations by Maria Fay, execution of the exercises by Christina Beskou. In many of the exercises the screen shows the exercises from different angles to better explain the movements and posture of the body, as required by the exercise.

The book, the DVD and the videocassette, are invaluable in helping to understand the method, “They should be in the libraries of every school of dance and in every dance studio” (Frank Freeman, Safe Dance Practice, The Dancing Times, March 2004, page 57).