Basic Ballet Drills

by Goody Clairenstein
Ballet drills are challenging workouts designed to improve dancers' ability.

Ballet drills are challenging workouts designed to improve dancers' ability.

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Ballet is a demanding and challenging activity that places a large amount of stress on almost every part of the body. In order to master the many intricate and complex positions and moves in ballet -- all of which have a very specific placement and body positioning, from the toes to the fingertips -- dancers need to practice, practice and practice some more. Basic drills allow dancers to move through the building blocks of ballet, mastering the fundamentals and moving on to more advanced foot and bodywork.

Floor Drills

Floor drills for basic ballet moves are designed to allow dancers to practice traveling across the performance space. Floor drills incorporate the various traveling footwork used in classical ballet without the aid of a barre or other supporting structure. Ballet exercises appropriate for a floor drill include glissade, pas de chat and grand allegro. Combine traveling steps in sequence to create basic ballet floor drills that will improve your footwork, agility and grace.

Barre Drills

Barre drills allow dancers to use the barre to improve their leg and arm positioning in various challenging ballet configurations. Combine sequential barre moves to create basic barre drills. One advantage the barre offers is its ability to challenge both sides of a dancer's body so that she does not favor her right or left side over the other. Simply face in the opposite direction to drill the other side of the body at the barre. Appropriate barre exercises for a basic drill include pliés, tendus, dégagés, rondes de jambes, ports de bras and frappés.

Position Drills

The five positions of ballet are some of the most basic elements of a solid ballet foundation but arguably they are also the most important. Proper foot placement is crucial for executing precise and graceful ballet moves. Position drills let dancers move through the five foot positions either on the floor or at the barre. Jumping exercises and standing positions are excellent moves to practice in all five positions. Each exercise should be practiced several times in one foot position before moving on the next and the drill should be performed without pause between positions. Drilling the ballet foot positions and their accompanying arm configurations will allow dancers to learn the feeling of proper placement and alignment in their dancing.

Jumping Drills

For an extra boost of cardiovascular exercise, create a basic jumping drill that challenges the legs and core. Ballet jumps are very exacting in their requirements for foot placement before, during and after the jump. As the jumping drill progresses, dancers will find it increasingly challenging to execute the jumps while maintaining proper form. Jumping drills can be done at the barre for increased assistance and stability, as well as guidance for positioning the legs, arms and gaze. Create a jumping drill that incorporates simple changement, glissade, assemblé, pas de chat, jeté and sissonné.

About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.

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