BarreLab: embodying change


How do we develop new relationships to the ballet tradition, and to each other in the ballet classroom? This class offers an experimental approach to ballet barre, using a collaborative ‘relay’ format. Classic barre exercises will serve as a laboratory for how we might physically embody a new relationship to the ballet tradition, and to ourselves as teachers and dancers of it. Presenters will co-teach, integrating deep knowledge of ballet technique with practices of compositional improvisation and devising in the moment. Their approach stretches and challenges the ritual of ballet class, shifting the locus of control from the traditionally “omnipotent” teacher to the possibilities of connection, collaboration, and improvisation within its frame. A brief conversation will follow.  


The presenters are dedicated to nourishing the rigor of ballet training, while interrogating the rigidity of the power system in which that occurs. They have engaged in a decade-long dialog on the evolution of ballet training in higher education, in the context of an institution which has a long-term commitment to anti-racism and equity. Their work re-envisions the skills palette of the ballet teacher, as well as that of the dancer, exploring how dancers can push off from the touchstones of traditional ballet technique to make it relevant, equitable, flexible and joyful. At the juncture of the new world of remote education, the urgency of racial reckoning, and the developing science around attention, teaching, and learning, they offer this experimental barre experience as a chance to practice embodying change.

Presenters: Paige Cunningham Caldarella and Emily Stein