Barre workouts use the five positions of ballet fairly often, and you should probably commit them to memory. Thankfully, their names are not French, and they go in order: First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth position. These five core positions of ballet are the foundation from which most other barre movements begin and end.
If you are unfamiliar with ballet or barre exercises, it’s a good idea to learn how to properly do these five core barre positions, as they will be used frequently throughout most barre exercise routines.
Here is a short video explaining the five basic positions of ballet that are frequently used in barre, plus, detailed written explanations for each ballet barre position below.
Five Ballet Barre Positions for Barre Workouts
- First position: Stand with your heels together and your feet turned out, so that you are making a “pizza slice” shape between your feet. Lengthen your spine so that your back is straight from the top of your head to the bottom of your tailbone, keep your knees straight, and let your hands rest on the barre for stability.
- Second position: Slide your heels apart to either side from first position until your feet are shoulder-width apart. Your feet and legs should still be turned out. Move your hands apart from each other as well, opening your arms to complete the open stance of second position.
- Third position: Slide one heel into the curve of the inside of your other foot, keeping both feet turned out. The heel should be exactly midway between the heel and toe of your other foot. Third, fourth, and fifth position have right and left sides, depending on the food you use. Third position is the least-frequently used, but you may as well know it anyway.
- Fourth position: From third position, slide your midway-front foot forwards until it is about one foot-length away from the toes of your back foot. The heel of your front foot should be directly in-line with the toes of your back foot, and both legs should remain turned out at all times.
- Fifth position: Eliminate the distance between your two feet in fourth position by sliding your front foot back towards yourself, until your heel lightly connects with the toes of your back foot. Your feet should remain turned out in this position.
It is essential that with each of these positions, you are employing proper technique throughout your entire body, not just your hands and feet. Engaging the entire body, even when one is simply standing still, is how dancers train and strengthen their muscles. Read up on Basic Ballet Barre Exercise Techniques to get the full benefit of every barre workout.
New to barre? Read a quick introduction to barre workouts here.