Giving yourself class!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hello everyone!

One thing we get a LOT of requests for here at Ballerinas By Night is help with class! People want to give themselves class at home, but need new ideas. Since I have just finished up performing in the Nutcracker recently, I also saw many people wishing they had more ideas for giving themselves a warm up class.

A warm up class is going to differ from a typical class in a few ways. When trying to get ready for stage, you need to be extra efficient. Every combination needs to do as much as it can to get every part of the body moving. For me, a typical class will have a theme (maybe working on retire position at barre, then carrying that into turns and pas de chats in the center). In this type of class, I focus on certain muscle groups throughout the whole class in the hopes of making my students feel those muscles the next day (they love me for that, right?). I build my warm up classes, however, to be athletic and to work as many muscles groups as possible throughout the entire class. There is extra stretching and extra balances.

This class is an adapted version of what I have been teaching recently, and can also be used as a home class/workout. Of course, you can and should adapt it to your own needs. I highly suggest using music, and we even gave you some music suggestions for classes at home (remember that?).

First, I want to talk about the order of ballet class. If you get some ballet music, you will automatically have an order to your class if you just follow along with the CD. But, different styles will do certain exercises at different times, so if you are used to something else, of course customize to your own needs.

My preferred order is:

  1. Plies
  2. Tendus from 1st
  3. Tendus from 5th (If I am in a time crunch, I only do one tendu combination, but I prefer two.)
  4. Degages from 1st
  5. Degages from 5th (Same holds true for degage - can be combined into one combination.)
  6. Rond de jambe a terre
  7. Frappe
  8. Fondu (Again, I prefer to have one frappe and one fondu combination, but they can combined or switched out if you are short on time.)
  9. Adagio/stretch (I prefer to have a short adagio that continues into stretching, but this is another one of those that could be split up into two completely different parts, or adagio at barre could be skipped completely. If I know I am going to do an involved adagio in the center, I don't always do one at barre. Either way, I suggest stretching before grand battement.)
  10. Grand battement

Note: there are several other barre exercises that could be included, such as rond de jambe en l'air and petite battement, among others. I'm not going to address those in this blog post, but just know that this list is not 100% comprehensive.

Another note for the following: There are many different ways to write down and explain the steps for a combination, and many times the same step has several different terms that can be used to say the same thing. It doesn't mean that someone is wrong because they do or say something differently (this is so important). I find writing down steps like this extremely time consuming and frustrating, so I'm not going for perfection in how this is written out. Feel free to comment with any questions or if you need clarifications, however! I'm also not putting in counts for everything because in most cases it should be self-explanatory or open to interpretation. :-)


Two demis, one grand. Forward bend, releve. Change position. Repeat in 2nd and 5th (no fourth). After 5th, tendu back to first, turn in and take 8 counts to stretch foward. Bend the knees, walk out and back, or whatever else you need. Roll up, reverse the arm stretching back. Plie, releve and balance.

Tendus from 5th (or could be done from 1st and repeated from 5th)
Tendu, plie, tendu, close. Front, pass back, pass front, close. Side close back, side close front (2 counts each), 4 tendus in 1 count closing 1st, 1st, 1st, 5th back. Repeat from the back. Balance sous-sus.

Degage from 5th (again, could be adapted to go from 1st as well)
Degage, plie, degage, plie. Out, pique, pique (SHARP), close 5th. Repeat side and inside leg front. Plie passe in four counts, two times. Stay in the last passe and balance retire.

Rond de jambe
4, two counts each. 4, one count each. 1 en lair in four counts. En dehors, en dedans. Circular bend, and reverse it. Take time here for whatever you need - lunge, etc. Take a balance. If you are still working on a good retire position, this is the time to face the barre and to check yourself. Only balance if you can maintain placement, otherwise just work on training the proper position with hands still on the barre. If you are more advanced, take an arabesque or attitude balance.

4 in two counts each - front, side, back. Two double frappe side in two counts each, four counts of petite battement. Repeat from the back. Optional: repeat on releve.

2 fondus in two counts each, 1 fondu releve, hold count 7, sous-sus count 8. En croix. Foot in hand stretch four counts front, carry side, let go and hold. Repeat. Hand in knee for attitude to the back, stretch as you need. Balance in arabesque, brush through to close fifth front.


Grand battement
3 grand battement (2 counts each), plie stretch. Front, back, side. Six attitude swings starting from the back, ending to close front. Or, you could do seven, close back, and repeat from the back.


Rond de jambe front and carry back, on the fondu front and carry back, degage en lair (brush front to ninety degrees) on 5, 6, 7, close 8. Developpe side in four counts, fouette to third arabesque, hold, pas de bourree. Grand plie (four counts), carry the arms to fifth en haut and open, counts 5-8. Tombe pas de bourree (1-2), passe (3-4), passe (5-6), sous-sus 7, plie 8, prepare for left side.

Pirouette (this is a good combination for home use because it doesn't take up much room!)
Step up to sous-sus (1), plie (2), push to retire balance (3), plie (4), sous-sus (5), plie (6), pirouette (7), end with the leg extended a la seconde on the fondu (8), soutenu (1-2), tendu side (3), carry to tendu back (4), outside pirouette (5-6), finish (7), tendu back to fifth on 8 so you can go left.

First jumps
8 jumps in first, 4 jumps in second, 4 changement. Repeat left.

Basic petite allegro
Glissade jete, glissade jete, glissade assemble, glissade assemble. Three pas de chats, pas de bourree, three entrechat quatre, hold on 8.

Enjoy your class!


Unknown said...

Hi Abby, thank you a lot for this post:)
As I am quite new to ballet, I still have problems with the names and the steps. Would it be possible to make a video showing this warm-up sequence?

Thank you both for all your advice and for sharing your experience. I really like to read and watch everything you post.

Have a nice day:)

Ballerinas By Night said...

Thanks for the comment! We will definitely see if we can make a video of this. I also got another request for a more basic center, so look for that coming soon as well. :-D

Unknown said...

Great :) Thank you for answering. Looking forward to both :)

Keyle Rece said...

such a ideal trainer with blonde lady for ballet and further here at Ballerinas By Night is help with class. thanks for share that useful blog.

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