Barkley and James Kopecky in Dwight Rhoden's The Groove. Photo by Jeff Cravotta, Courtesy Charlotte Ballet

25 to Watch 2018: Raven Barkley

Surrounded by 10 male dancers, Charlotte Ballet's Raven Barkley holds her own in a thrilling grand allégro combination filled with jumps, beats and tours en l'air. In the "Winter" section of Sasha Janes' The Four Seasons, she matches the electrifying intensity of Antonio Vivaldi's music.


Athleticism is Barkley's calling card. It's what Janes says landed her the "Winter" lead in her first season with Charlotte Ballet. But beyond her ballon, Barkley's dancing possesses deep fluidity and musicality, as seen in another of Janes' ballets, Last Lost Chance. In an emotional solo, she spins like a slow-moving mobile, projecting a sense of yearning that cuts to the quick.

Before joining Charlotte Ballet in 2015, the 24-year-old Bronx native trained at Dance Theatre of Harlem's pre-professional program, and graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase. Sure to be a magnet for other choreographers and répétiteurs coming to work with the company, the focused and driven Barkley says, "Every day I find something different to work on to improve."


Find out who else made Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list this year.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020