Ballet Exercises with a Noodle

Tuesday, July 02 2019

In Aqua Adage, movements from the barre & Adage sections of a ballet class are blended with traditional aquatic fitness programming.  Ashley B. shares 10 of her favorite barre & Adage movements.  Take away ideas for adding a ballet twist to traditional conditioning exercises.

Adage is defined as "drawn out and lengthened.”   Ballet and Pilates inspired exercise programs are popular because who doesn’t envy the dancer’s body?  

In Aqua Adage, the focus is on improving range of motion and flexibility by using ballet technique to lengthen the muscles and strengthen ones that often get neglected.   The goal is to achieve an overall "feel good healing" of the body with the grace and flair of ballet inspired movement.  

Aqua Adage was created when Ashley was teaching at a facility with a warm therapy pool and thought it would be the perfect environment for a full class plan.  “Once that was developed, I was able to select bits and pieces that would fit well in my other aqua classes for recovery and cool down sections,” says Ashley

If you are not a ballet connoisseur, it might be helpful to better understand the structure of a typical ballet class.  As described in Ashley’s workshop handout for Aqua Adage, a typical ballet class, whether you take class in London, Russia, or the USA, consists of series of class segments as described below. 

This segment includes a series of exercises done at the barre to get the body ready for the work that will take place during the rest of the class.  The stability of the barre to support and assist the dancer allows them to effectively warm up and prepare the body for the complicated steps that happen in the Centre segment.   Barre classes have become very popular in both studios and pools.  “What I loved about bringing these barre movements to the pool was that it would give my participants an environment to practice these challenging exercises while being supported in the water or by the wall or a noodle,” says Ashley. 

 Still getting the body ready and warm for the more challenging steps, exercises like the Port de Bras, Centre Practice & Turns, and Adage segments are typically danced next.
PORT DE BRAS – means movement of the arms.  Arms are always rounded and supported.  The upper portion of the arm (elbow to shoulder) slightly internally rotates, while the elbow slightly supinates.   Any arm movement can be considered “port de bras” but in a ballet class there are traditional arm patterns that are used frequently.   For example, basic or simple port de bras would carry from bras bas (arms in front of body), to first (arms in front of body), to second (arms extended) and return to bras bas.  The arms are always fluid and never static or stiff.  The arm movement is powered from the back, rather than just the shoulder joint, and one should feel (and see) the back muscles working and engaged.  “The Port de Bras has always been my favorite part of ballet class and the seamless flow of the exercises makes it a lovely compliment to an aqua class,” says Ashley. 

The Allegro segment refers to “Fast & Lively.” Typically, one would dance some Petit Allegro Exercises (meaning small jumps) like Sautés, Changements and Soubresauts in various combinations (to name a few).  Next can be called the Medium Allegro or simply Allegro, which would consist of slightly larger movements, including Glissades, Sissones, and Assemblés.  Finally, would be the Grande Allegro, typically taking place from the corner of the room and travelling across the studio by dancing larger jumps and leaps including Saut de Chat, Grande Jetés, and Fouette Sautés.   Ashley demonstrated many of these jumps and leaps in her previous video, Aqua Allegro.   She suggests combining higher intensity moves from Aqua Allegro with the slower, more graceful movements from Aqua Adage. 

This segment closes out a typical ballet class and includes low gentle movements to lower the heart rate and thank the accompanist and the teacher for the class.

As always, Fitmotivation extends a big thank you to Ashley Bishop for traveling from Las Vegas to Florida for filming. Be sure to check out her previous Fitmotivation Videos, including Splash Toning, Circuit CircusDynamically Rhythmic,  Aqua Allegro and Cardio Combos. If you prefer to buy the video downloads individually, Ashley currently has Aqua Allegro and Cardio combos for sale and she will soon be offering the other videos as downloads on her website.  If you are interested in these downloads or in attending or hosting Ashley’s CEC workshops, please visit Bagel Fit by Ashley Bishop.




Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.