Before Kate Albarelli took her place at the helm of Pure Yoga’s barre program, she was plié-ing and relevé-ing at the barre of Suzanne Farrell Ballet and the Met Opera Ballet. In other words, the creator of Pure Yoga’s brand new Figure 4 is a bona fide ballerina. With her tall, willowy frame and cascade of red pre-Raphaelite curls, she looks the part, too.
After the sudden departure of the Rupa Mehta’s Nalini Method, Pure Yoga sought another barre luminary to create an in-house program that could grow with the primo membership-based studio.
Albarelli, who came with 15 years of dancing and teaching experience, proved the perfect partner. An alum of Physique 57 and Exhale’s Core Fusion, she was both a creative powerhouse as well as a competent manager (she trained Core Fusion instructors and managed multiple Exhale locations as a Core Fusion Master Teacher).
All the while, Albarelli had been teaching private lessons and devising her own barre riff. “I married the high energy and choreography of Physique 57 with the alignment focus of Core Fusion,” she explains.
But Figure 4 is much more than a merger of existing methods. “Ultimately, I wanted to bring it back to basics. I wanted to create a truly ballet-based method,” says Albarelli. All of Figure 4’s teachers come from the professional ballet world—and the program name refers to the Figure 4 stretch that ballet dancers do (Natalie Portman’s Nina does it obsessively throughout Black Swan). It also references the four areas of the body the class sculpts: abs, arms, glutes, and thighs.
The class structure mirrors ballet: Thigh work comes first—by working the body’s largest muscles first the metabolic rate gets hiked early and stays high, says Albarelli. (It also gets the hardest part of class over first!)
Unusual props are arriving soon, including memory foam cushions to protect the lumbar spine during ab work, and split sole ballet shoes. During class you can either go barefoot or ballet soled. “Barre classes make women feel feminine, yet strong and empowered at the same time,” remarks Albarelli. And New Yorkers seem glad to reap the benefits. —Alexia Brue
Figure 4 at Pure Yoga West, 204 West 77th St., btwn Amsterdam and Broadway. www.PureYoga.com.