Your Guide to Ballet Barres

Although ballet is often thought to have originated in France, its earliest origins actually date back to ancient Italy in the 1500s. In fact, the term “ballet” comes from the Latin root word “ballare,” which means “to dance.”

One of the reasons why ballet is still around today is that it is one of the few dance forms that totally utilize the maximum range of movement, motion, and form that the human body can perform.

From the simple movements of “first position” to the incredible strength needed to perform point dancing and pirouettes using only the toes, ballet is a form of dance that has moved the world for hundreds of years.

If you’ve ever attended a ballet class, then you’ve likely noticed that the center point of each studio is a long bar (called a barre after the French tradition). The dance barre allows the ballerinas to warm up, stretch, and prepare their bodies for the more strenuous, focused movements of their real dance routines.

Although COVID-19 and quarantine have restricted open class schedules for many dancers, ballerinas can still purchase this special piece of equipment and perform their warm-up routines at home using portable, adjustable barres.

Today’s post is all about ballet barres! You’ll learn all of the basics about these products including:

  • The materials used to make the barres (and which is best)
  • The difference between a professional studio barre and home barres

It’s time to dance!

Everything You Need to Know About Barres

Although barres are most often associated with ballet warm-up routines, they are also used in a fitness exercise routine known as “barre.” This was created by English ballerina Lotte Berk who suffered an injury and created an exercise program designed to combine aspects of rehabilitative therapy with a standard ballet warm-up.

Today, barre classes are all the rage and the movements are very similar to what you would find in a standard pilates routine. One of the main appeals is that practitioners need very little equipment and can do the exercises in their own homes (which is especially important during this global lockdown period).

So, whether you’re purchasing a full-scale barre for your studio space or you just want a single portable ballet barre for your home workouts and stretching, here’s a crash course on everything you need to know about this versatile product.

Different Types Of Ballet Barres

Although the concept of ballet barres is relatively simple, there are a few different types of barres that you should be aware of. For example, if you’re an on-the-go traveler or you’re working with limited space, you’re probably better off using an adjustable barre. On the other hand, if you’ve got a full room or garage space, then you could benefit from a long-length wood barre.

Wall-Mounted Barre

Wall-mounted barres are, by far, the most sturdy. They’re screwed into the wall using high-quality stainless steel brackets. These brackets are able to support the full weight of your body and your legs when you’re engaging in deep stretches and learning your bodyweight against them.

That being said, these barres do require some tools as you’ll have to screw them into the studs behind your drywall. You also may need permission from your landlord to install them.

Portable Ballet Barre

If you live in a smaller apartment or don’t want to deal with the hassle of installing a full-length wood barre in your home, then a portable barre provides an easy solution. They’re typically 3 to 6-feet long and can be moved anywhere in your space to accommodate your routine.

Adjustable Ballet Barre

Although some portable barres are solid, most of them are fully adjustable. This is great, especially if you’re not sure which height you should use or if different-sized dancers (such as your kids or friends) will be practicing with you.

Ballet Barre Materials

You’ll typically be able to choose between the following options when it comes to barre materials.

Wood Ballet Barres

Wood barres are classic. They have that warm, soft, traditional feel that you’re probably used to using in class.

Metal Ballet Barres

Metal ballet barres are made to be extra-sturdy, but they can sometimes feel a bit cold to the touch.

PVC Ballet Barres

PVC ballet barres are great if you’re looking for a cheap solution. However, they’re not necessarily the best-looking products and have a more plastic feel to them.

Which Is Better?

If you’re a traditional ballerina or barre student and you’re looking for the best at-home experience, then you’ll likely be happiest using a traditional wood fitness barre.

Sources:

  1. https://www.atlantaballet.com/resources/brief-history-of-ballet#:~:text=The%20history%20of%20ballet%20begins,into%20court%20life%20in%20France.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barre_(exercise)#:~:text=Barre%20was%20created%20by%20the,in%20her%20West%20End%20basement.