One of the pleasures that having a wood workshop provides is designing custom, free-standing ballet barres. Ballet itself is a gracious art form, and I try to capture that in the barres to help put the dancers into the right mood for their pliés and relevés.
The smallest I’ve built to date is this single-person version for home use. It has a short barre to keep it in proportion to a room, and extended legs to provide enough space for stretches and lifts.
5-foot single-person ballet barre: oak supports and hemlock dowel.
For delivery it comes apart in three pieces, and with no part longer than 5 foot, it could even be hand-carried.
Barre in three pieces, easy to transport and store.
Recently I was commissioned to make a barre for a physiotherapy clinic that caters for a variety of clients, young and old. I proposed a double-barre structure so that each person can stretch and do exercises at the appropriate height. If used in a ballet studio, this 7-foot barre could accommodate four little dancers, two at either side. The straight legs make for compact storage when the barre is not in use. It can be easily dismantled by unscrewing the knobs, no tools required, and fits neatly into most cars to be transported to other locations.
Natural materials and flowing lines give the barres a light and gracious look, but at the same time they have to be strong and supportive for years of use. The legs are either made of solid oak or double-thick plywood, with smooth-sanded hemlock dowel for the shorter barres.
The longest free-standing barres I have made so far measure ten foot. For these I used a steel tube core for added strength inside an ABS tube to hide the metal from view and touch. This barre has been in daily use since 2008 and is still going strong:
Original 10-foot barre design.
The upright leg design has changed from the prototype to accommodate more dancers following a discussion with the teachers and a demonstration on a model barre:
Scale model highlighting different support options.
Keeping the same 10-foot barre length, the extended support design provides an extra 2-foot of leg room:
10-foot steel-cored barres with canted plywood legs.
Sometimes barres are required to be adjustable in height. The standard full height is 43 inches, but a local pilates studio wanted the option of lowering their barre for the occasional younger client. I developed a wooden, hand-operated mechanism that allows the barre to be secured at either 43 or 33 inches.
The wooden knob on the side of the support holds the barre together. It can be removed completely, which dismantles the barre for transport or long-term storage, or it can be unscrewed just a little to allow the barre to be rotated:
Hinge mechanism, changing the height of the barre.
With the barre rotated, and the ends reinserted into the supports, the knobs on both supports are done up lightly again, ready for use at the new height.
Adjustable barre: lower position.
Most barres are individual models, tailor-made for specific purposes and needs, but sometimes I make them in pairs or batches. These identical double barres are 8-foot long, which allow two dancers at either side to work at their preferred height.
Pair of double 8-foot barres.
They come with a straight leg design to fit tightly next to each other for storage at the back of the studio when not in use.
Three neatly stacked double barres.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about wooden, free-standing ballet barres.