Homemade Ballet Barre

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Homemade PVC pipe ballet barre

This summer, I made my very own kitchen-sized ballet barre out of PVC pipe from my local hardware store. It came up in conversation on Facebook recently, so I thought I would share this mini tutorial with all of you!

Here is how I made my barre. See the notes below for how you might modify it based on your height and other preferences.

Supplies:

  • PVC pipe primer and cement (two-can set)
  • 1.5″ PVC pipe
  • 4 ten-inch lengths for the legs
  • 2 thirty-seven-inch lengths for the uprights
  • 1 thirty-five-inch length for the horizontal piece
  • 6 elbows (4 for leg endcaps, 2 to connect the uprights to the horizontal piece)
  • 2 tees to connect the legs to the uprights

This resulted in a 41″ high barre. I’m 5’7″ and it’s a little on the high side for me, but I’m comfortable with it. If you are shorter, consider taking a couple of few inches off the 37″ uprights. However, don’t go too short or you’ll be slouching–and that’s not what you’re supposed to do at the barre! ūüėČ

Stretching on my homemade ballet barre

Stretching on my homemade ballet barre

At this length, the barre is plenty sturdy for stretching, though I wouldn’t hang on it like monkey bars. The longer the horizontal tube, the less sturdy it will be.

The barre is stable since it has a nice wide base, but it is very light so it moves around on the floor a lot. I am thinking about filling the legs with sand and plugging the feet. You could also fill some pillowcases with sand (or cat litter) and put them on the feet to help keep it in place. Suggestions are welcome!

A two-tier barre is also possible. To do that, you would need t-connectors¬†on the uprights¬†to allow for a second horizontal tube a few inches below the top horizontal¬†tube…¬†Check YouTube for some tutorials if you can’t envision it yourself.

Even kitties love ballet barres!

Even kitties love ballet barres!

Chances are good that your local hardware store will cut the piece to order for you. Maine Hardware here in Portland was awesome!

Note that the PVC cement dries after a couple of¬†seconds so definitely¬†do a trial run of the assembly without glue¬†to work¬†out any kinks¬†and ensure that¬†joints are all going to be facing the right way! I recommend using the PVC cement over anything else since you don’t want this thing falling apart mid-use.

Also note: the cement is stinky! You’ll *definitely* need good ventilation… ūüėõ Outdoors or garage assembly is best.

Happy dancing!

Keeping Your Body Happy in Cool Weather

Autumn has arrived in Maine! After a few days of 50s and rainy, we’re getting a little reprieve, but we’re clearly on track for the change in seasons.

For dancers, the way cold weather affects our bodies can come as a rude surprise. Here are a few ways to minimize the potential negatives.

  • Winter photo shoot with Leigh Kelly

    Winter photo shoot with Leigh Kelly of Image Catcher

    Warm outdoor clothing: In nice weather, we often come and go from class in our practice clothes. When the weather cools, it’s important to wear warmer outdoor clothing, and change into–and out of–your practice wear *at the studio.* We usually sweat in class, and if you go outside into cold weather in your practice clothes, that dampness cools you down in an unpleasant way.

  • Layers in the studio: Be sure to wear layers during class–and put them back on when you stop moving! Close-fitting is best since they’ll keep the body heat right on you while allowing your teacher to still see your movements clearly. I’ll often wear a sports bra, tank top, waffle-knit shirt and sometimes a zip-up slim sweatshirt or fleece. Hips, legs, ankles and feet need layers, too! Leg warmers are your friend.
  • Warm up your body: Arrive at class 10 minutes earlier than you normally would and go through your typical warm-up routine before class begins! That way, your body will be more ready to move–and, if your teacher leads a warm-up as I hope they do, you’ll get two! Happy body, happy dancer.
  • Keep moving: If the pace of class slows or takes a break for corrections, lecture, etc., don’t just stand there–keep moving! Practice your shimmies, stretch out your muscles, practice your snake arms. Stop-and-go pacing is not great for the body as it causes you to cool down and then jump back into it essentially without warning. So don’t let the dead stops happen. You don’t have to do jumping jacks all class long‚Ķ just keep moving in one way or another. Bonus–you will probably notice improvement in your technique, too!
  • Be mindful of your injuries or weak spots: If you have a prior injury like a pulled muscle, or spots in your body that just tend to get grumpy, take special care to keep those areas warm. Wear an extra layer on that body part. Spend some extra time getting that area moving.
  • Cozy socks in the studio

    Cozy socks in the studio

    Don’t stretch cold: Be sure that your body is warm before you work on your flexibility. Your muscles will thank you!

  • Keep breathing: The cold tends to make us all tense up. And when muscles are unconsciously tense, our technique suffers and we’re more prone to injury. Use your breath to help you relax and move. Consciously breathe through your warm-ups to get in the habit for class.
  • Drink water: No matter what the season, your body needs to stay hydrated to work at its best. I like to add a piece of star anise to my water bottle each day. It keeps the water lightly and naturally flavored but not sweet. Yum!

Take good care of your body and winter won’t be such an obstacle. Everything takes a little longer in the winter‚Ķ bundling up, warming up, sweeping off your car or your sidewalk. Know this going into the season and things will be easier!