My "Go-To" Warm-up

First off, I would like to thank everybody for leaving a comment on my last post. Thanks to all of you, Life of a Freelance Dancer has been named a finalist in Dance Advantage's top dance blog contest. You can continue moving this blog forward in the contest by clicking on this link and voting in two categories, Your Favorite Dance Blog and Career Dancer. Thanks in advance! Now moving on to the topic of this post.

Doing barre on my way hiking up to Olympic hot springs - Olympic National Park
I've received a handful of requests from both dancers and teachers to post the details of my typical ballet barre warmup. This warmup is not how I start each day, but if it is a performance day where class isn't offered, if I just can't afford to pay to take open class, or I happen to push the snooze button too many times (which I would never do.....), I often do the same barre series to get myself warm and  to stay in shape. I like to keep this routine mostly set, so I can focus my energy and attention on my performance or to speed along my warm up by not having to think about each individual combination prior to a rehearsal. If I am giving myself a class to improve my technique or to get in shape, I am more likely to change these combinations. But for the most part, this is how I get ready for a performance or warm up for rehearsal if I havent taken class.

When it comes to warming up, especially on performance days, I have a few rules that I live by. Having spent most of my career dancing in a company that finds its roots in the Balanchine technique, I like to do a handful of tendus and jetes to make sure that my feet and legs are nice and warm before I start extending my leg en l'air for any period of time. I avoid combinations that will tire out my legs and I also try to add a handful of balances at the end of most combinations to find my turnout muscles and rotators. I have a handful of ballet CD's on my Ipod that I could use if I really want piano music for my class, but I often prefer to use my current playlist of popular music to save the time searching for music at a comfortable tempo. Even if the music is not the right speed, I dance through it and allow the energy of the music to build up my own energy. This is really helpful, especially on days where I am performing Nutcracker #15 in less than 3 weeks. It can really freshen things up.

PLIE: Keep it simple and straight forward (I hate it when plies are complicated). 2 demi plies & 1 grande plie in 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th positions. Followed by whatever port de bras I am feeling.

TENDUS from 1st position: (slow, smooth, and even) 2 tendus front going back to 1st. 2 tendus front going back to 5th. 2 tendus front going back to first. Demi plie for 4 counts. Repeat combo to the side, back, and side with a releve replacing the plie both times to the side. Balance in 1st position releve.

TENDUS from 5th position: (moderate tempo) 1 tendu front, closing with a plie. 2 tendus front with the accent in. Pas de cheval front in one count, close 5th, coupe passe closing back. Reverse to the back. 1 tendu side, plie. 2 tendus side accent in. Repeat side. 2 pas de chevals side closing 5th. Releve coupe balance. If I have energy, I will reverse the whole combination to the back.

TENDUS from 5th position: (fast tempo) 3 tendus front, 3 tendus side, 5 tendus back with the last one closing into a plie. Repeat side, front, side. Repeat back, side, front. Repeat side, back, side. Quick and fast in a Balanchinian manner.

JETES in 1st position facing the barre: (using the right leg) 8 jetes side closing 1st, 8 jetes side closing 5th, 8 jetes side closing first. Plie, releve in first, plie, and stretch the legs. Repeat left.

JETES in 5th position: 2 jetes front (accent in), double pique (in one count), closing 5th. 2 jetes front, balancoir front, back, front (ending out). Close 5th, jete side, back, side. Jete side to 5th two times (changing), jete 1st, jete 5th (closing back). Repeat back. Jete side two times, double pique to the side, closing 5th. Repeat. Releve retire (balancing 6 counts), close 5th back. Reverse combo to the back. Finish with balance in retire.

ROND DE JAMBES A TERRE: (starting 1st or 5th. I prefer 5th). Rond de jambe in plie front, stretch to the back. Brush through 1st lifting leg to the front (battements - 45 degrees), brush to arabesque (45 degrees) back. Rond de jambe in plie front, stretch to the back, 2 rond de jambes en dehors. 4 rond de jambes en dehors w/ port de bras. Plie battements leg front (90 degrees or above), passe through to a straight leg arabesque. Reverse. Finish with whatever port de bras you wish. (I usually like to finish this combination with a balance in low arabesque).

PIQUES & PETITE ROND DE JAMBES A TERRE: (extremely fast tempo) 2 piques front, 2 piques side. 1 pique front, side, back, lift the leg to arabesque (45 degrees). 4 petite rond de jambes a terre closing with plie in 5th position back. Reverse. Rond de jambe side en l'air (45 degrees - out on 1, rond on 2, close in 5th on 3, hold 4), Rond de jambe side en dedans en l'air reverse. Double rond de jambe side en dehors en l'air, Double rond de jambe side en dedans en l'air.

FONDU: Fondu front (45 degrees), fondu closing 5th, fondu front (45 degrees), fondue front en releve. Repeat side, back. Closing sous-sous, developpe inside leg to attitude front balance. Reverse combination, finishing with a balance in attitude back with inside leg.

STRETCH: Whatever you need to do to stretch.

ADAGIO: (This is the one I change the most. If my legs are tired, I may even skip adagio altogether. If I don't want to tire out my legs, I may alter this) Developpe front holding for 6 counts, lower to tendu on 7, close 5th position on 8. Repeat en croix.

FRAPPE: 3 frappes front in 2 counts, 3 frappes front in 2 counts, double frappe side, back, side, front. Repeat side (starting doubles back, side, front, side). Repeat back (starting doubles side, front, side, back). Repeat side (starting doubles front, side, back, side). Sometimes I repeat en releve if my legs aren't too tired. Petite battement for 8 counts.

GRAND BATTEMENTS: 2 grand battements front taking 2 counts for each battement. 2 grand battements front taking 1 count out and holding on 2 (accent in). Repeat Side, Back. 2 grand battements side, 3rd grand battements side, turning it in as it comes back in, turning it back out as it battements back to the side.

Properly warming up can help keep you on point in your performance (Performing my own choreography - Gated Lies. Photo: Bill Hebert)

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