Back To The Barre: A First Introduction To Ballet At Home


Wanting to learn about the basics of ballet and find good online ballet classes and performances for the family to enjoy?

You have come to the right place! Maybe you are looking for a fun activity for your child, or a parent wanting to exercise but also spend time with and entertain the family.

Ballet is a great activity because you can do a wide variety of things to accommodate your own situation and it can be can be done and enjoyed at any age. If you have young children, you can even dance together. Ballet is also lovely to watch not just to do, so instead of a family movie night watching TV, why not put on a ballet, which is both inspiring and relaxing at the end of the day?

What Do You Need To Do A Ballet Class?

You don’t need lots of fancy ballet gear to get the most out of your online ballet classes. For children, you could use a ballet class as a fun opportunity to dress up. Wear a lovely skirt, a dress, or even a tiara. For adults, you can wear anything comfortable to do ballet. I would recommend some leggings and a T-Shirt. Ballet dancers wear their hair in buns to keep it out of their faces when they dance. However, this is not necessary as a beginner. Do any hairstyle to keep your hair tidy, such as a ponytail or a braid, and you should be good to go.

In terms of foot wear, you can just wear socks (if your floor is not too slippery, and you make sure you are careful) or you can dance in bare feet. Socks may make it easier, because you can brush you feet along the floor with less friction, but you should do whatever makes you comfortable.

Make sure you clear enough space to be able to dance safely!

If you are doing a ballet barre, of course you will need to hold onto something. The typical ballet barre is a bit below shoulder height, so the best objects to use would be a chair, a kitchen counter, or a table. I have also seen people using ironing boards, so you could give that a go.

Lastly, make sure that before you do any exercise you warm-up. This is so important to ensure that you don’t injure yourself. A good warm-up will increase your heart rate and get the muscles moving, such as cardio (running on the spot, skipping). You can even do arm swings or planks, just anything to make you feel warm and ready to dance. With children, you can play games such as the traffic light game, as a warm-up. When you say red, they have to stand still, when you say amber, they have to walk, and green, they run.

The Ballet Positions

In ballet, there are a few basic positions of the feet and arms. It is good to learn these positions before doing a ballet class, because every move starts or finishes with them and so they are essentially the ‘building blocks’ of ballet technique.

It is a good challenge for children to be able to recall these positions. You could even turn it into a fun game.

Here is a clip of a Royal Ballet Dancer performing the feet positions.

This clip from the Royal Ballet shows a dancer demonstrating these arm positions.

Free Online Ballet Videos: Young Children

There are many classes that teach children ballet on YouTube. Some that I would recommend are:

  1. Ballet class exercises geared for children aged 4-7

Part 1

Part 2

  1. Melody Bear Ballet Class for children aged 4 and under

20 minute class

12 minute class

Free Online Ballet Videos: Families/Adults

You may want to do some ballet as a family, as this is a great way to spend time together and to exercise. There are many beginner ballet classes for adults on the internet. There are also a range of ballet-based workouts that are fun to have a go at.

Ballet classes:

1) Kathryn Morgan

Kathryn Morgan, a professional ballet dancer has a YouTube channel with many insightful and easy to follow videos.

Beginner ballet barre (50 mins):

The same beginner ballet barre without introductions/explanations, so you can run through the exercises quicker.undefined

Kathryn Morgan also has very good tutorial videos about how to execute ballet steps and positions correctly. If you search on her YouTube channel, she has a playlist called Technique Tips, where you can find all of these videos.

Instagram Live Classes:

Many people on Instagram are now doing live ballet classes, where they do a livestream of them setting and doing ballet exercises for all of their viewers to follow along to. Here is the link to an article from Pointe Magazine, showing you a range of different ‘Instagram live’ classes that you can take. All you do to participate is go to the Instagram page of the host and click on their profile picture at the time of the live to join!

Ballet-based workouts:

1) Floor Barre

This is ballet style workout, where barre exercises are done whilst lying on the floor, hence the name ‘Floor Barre’. The exercises are still paired with classical music, much like a normal ballet class. Lying down takes pressure off the joints, which may be beneficial to some people, and although it seems like it would be easier, it is a challenging workout!

Floor barre workout (30 mins):

2) Train Like A Ballerina

This is a YouTube channel, which many different videos, ranging from core workouts to stretching tutorials and advise. Louisa Paterson, the channel creator, was a former dancer and most of her exercises are based around ballet movements. This a great YouTube channel to check out.

Online Inspiration

There are many online ballet productions to watch. You could put on a ballet in the evening to inspire the whole family.

1) ENB Watch Party

Every Wednesday, the English National Ballet are opening their archives and sharing ballets with everybody. On Wednesday at 7pm BST, you can go to the English National Ballet YouTube or Facebook, where they will be live streaming a different ballet production every week. (link to it on ‘Facebook’)

2) Royal Opera House #OurHouseToYourHouse Series

Similar to the English National Ballet, the Royal Opera House, which is the home of the Royal Ballet, has been streaming live ballet productions on Friday at 7pm BST. I am not certain if they will be streaming new productions every Friday, so check their YouTube or Facebook channels for more details.

3) Full Length Ballet Productions

Many ballet companies have released videos of full length or excerpts of ballets to YouTube.

Some great ballets for children are The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Coppélia and La Fille Mal Gardée.

Here are a few of my favourites:

- The Sleeping Beauty, Theatro Alla Scala (2 hours 30 mins)

- The Nutcracker, Mariinsky Theatre, (1 hour 45 mins)

- Cinderella, Birmingham Royal Ballet (2 hours)

- Cinderella, Paris Opera Ballet (2 hours)

- Coppélia, Paris Opera Ballet (1 hour)

- La Fille Mal Gardée, Royal Ballet, Short clip of ‘The Clog Dance’

- La Fille Mal Gardée, Royal Ballet, Short clip of the ‘Adagio Pas De Deux’:


Written By

Anya Mercer

Anya comes from Sussex but lives and spends most of her time in London, because she is currently training at the English National Ballet School to become a professional dancer. Anya really enjoys all dance forms and everything associated with dance, including the hair, make-up and music. She also loves travelling and exploring different places, photography, cooking and drawing.

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