Floor Barre – Everything That Everyone Should Know
Updated: Mar 4
Floor-Barre was originated in the 1960s by Zena Rommett, a world-renowned ballet dancer and teacher whose students included the likes of Tommy Tune, Patrick Swayze, and Judith Jameson, according to the New York Times. Rommett was born Angelina Buttignol, but known as Zena, near Treviso, Italy in 1920. Her father, Antonio, immigrated to the United States first, and Zena followed two years later with her mother. They settled in Elmsford, New York, and Antonio eventually owned a brick factory there. Zena’s dream was to dance, and she was able to convince her parents to let her take classes in Manhattan, New York City. Her ballet technique and instinctual grace brought her to surpass the skills of her peers, and she was able to train “for eight years on full scholarship with Anatole Vilzak and Ludmilla Schollar of Ballet Russes, Elisabeth Anderson-Ivantzova of the Bolshoi, and with choreographer, Chester Hale.” Steps on Broadway, NYC states that “she studied dance with the leading teachers in New York and made her Broadway debut in 1944 in ‘Seven Lively Arts’ <...>”. Rommett also danced on Broadway in “Song of Norway” and “Paint Your Wagon”. When she discovered an interest in teaching, Robert Joffrey invited Rommett to teach at his American Ballet Center, now the infamous Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
She opened her own school three years later in 1968, known then as the “Oasis of Dance”, and she spent over half a century training dancers and non-dancers alike. Though based in NYC, Rommett would serve as a guest teacher across the United States and all around the world, including in Russia, Italy, Germany, and Asia. There were other pioneers of similar floor-based techniques at the time Rommett blazed her trail, such as Russian-born and Paris-based teacher Boris Kniaseff, who taught his “barre par terre”. She, however, was particularly passionate about catering to a larger demographic than just dancers, and “remained interested in the widest application of principles.” Zena and her daughter, Camille, started certifying both dance teachers and physical therapists in the Floor-Based technique in 1998, and to this day, instructors still take seminars to train and become certified in the USA Trademarked technique of Barre, carrying on Rommett’s unique legacy.
Get Body Aligned
This technique “utilizes the floor to correct and refine body alignment, and includes gentle exercises to strengthen joints, increase vitality, and help rehabilitate injuries without the pressure of gravity.” It increases cardio endurance, boosts metabolism, and burns calories quickly.
Floor-Barre Is For All
Your body is fighting gravity differently in that position, and you do not have to continue to hold the weight of your body on your feet simultaneously, Floor-Barre is a method that can target any demographic, from children to older adults. Rommett has been quoted saying,
“My technique gives children a strong foundation for unmannered dancing.”
The technique is an excellent introduction or supplement to a dancer’s training. Floor-Barre may also help a dancer keep up with their body’s conditioning, technique, and alignment during a rest period from dance, or help them ease back into dance and proper technique after an injury.
Recover From An Injury
It is great for addressing and working around any joint problems plaguing its students because it keeps weight off of the joints so the body can still be strengthened while it heals. It is to the individual’s great benefit to stay in shape while their body recovers from an injury or other issue, and with Floor-Barre, there are few moves that can’t be done while still working back up to performing at one hundred percent. The movements and exercises incorporated in Floor-Barre provide the foundation for an overall stronger body. Recently had shoulder surgery? Take a Floor-Barre class. Have a twisted or sprained ankle? Take a Floor-Barre class. The same goes for any athlete that is injured: despite the ailment, Floor-Barre can play a significant role in rehabilitation by strengthening and aligning the body, increasing stamina, and reestablishing muscle memory. Floor-Barre can benefit anyone, from people from any walk of life to those who are involved in intense dance training.