Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Search for Portable Ballet Barres

An example of a homemade metal ballet barre
EDIT: Here is Part 2 - and which barre I chose
EDIT: Here is Part 3, a review (two years later)

I have been on a hunt for cheap but sturdy ballet barres to replace the adjustable single barre we've had at our studio for 20+ years. It no longer "adjusts" and just sits at the lowest setting.

After hours of research on the web, I am deciding whether it's worth my time and effort to build my own, buy a kit or just bite the bullet and pay the shipping for a pre-assembled barre.  After the jump are my research findings - hopefully saving you some time!

If you have any suggestions about ballet barres - chime in with a comment!

Price: $$
Effort Required: Medium

There are quite a few places online who sell the fittings and then you supply your own piping.  One of these places is "Blessed Barre".  They sell the instructions and fittings on eBay for $59-69/kit. Below is a video of the barre assembly. This kit is made from PVC piping, which can be found at your local Home Depot or Lowe's or hardware supply store.

Another option is Hale Barre Systems, who sells metal the fittings and instructions for $120-160/kit.  They suggest buying steel or aluminum piping which will be stronger than PVC (but also more expensive).

Price: $
Effort Required: Maximum

The second option is to build my own from pipes and fittings (PVC, aluminum or steel) which are found at most local hardware stores.  These are instructions I've pulled together from watching the above video, googling and checking out dance forums.

To make your own, you can make them any length you need, but most common are four, five or six foot lengths and about 42 inches high.  Because you are making them yourself, you can adjust the height and length to fit your needs (if you have mostly younger students, you could make some shorter barres or make double barres with varying heights).

My sketch of approximate layout of double barre
Double Barre: You will need elbows for where the top barre meets the side barre, then a short side barre (for space between the top and bottom barre). To connect the little piece to the bottom barre and the rest of the side (the longer, bottom piece) you need a t-joint (it has three openings). At the bottom, for your "feet" use a t-joint, two short pieces that end with an elbow. Then they have a cap that you can put on the open end of the elbow. The top barre should end at 42" high and the bottom about 10" lower.

Single Barre: Same as above, but you only need the t-joint at the feet/elbows  (no middle section).

For connecting the barres together, if you are using PVC pipe, you will need a compound, which is sold in small cans. One is a cleaner/prep and then you quickly follow it with the actual glue. There are quite a few videos on YouTube for glueing PVC pipe. If you are using metal piping, you will need teflon tape to wrap around the threads before screwing the pieces together.

Tips Gleaned from The Interwebz:
  • For metal pipes, the sliver-tones pipes work better than the black, but with either type you really need to clean the pipes good, since they have a film. 
  • Remember to leave an allowance for the thread section that will disappear into the part you are screwing it into when figuring length for your vertical and side pieces.  Also remember that your elbows/feet will raise the barre's overall height. 
  • If your assemble barre slides when in use, glue shoe rubber on the bottoms.
  • The average 5 foot barre will fit about 3-4 small kids (2 one one side, 2 on the other) or two teens/adults (one on each side).  Take into account the feet of the barre, if the kids are facing the barre and doing things to 2nd it would be tighter 

The best advice I found was to draw up your barre, with dimensions, and head to the store. Most workers will be more than happy to help you find the pieces you need.

Depending on the size of barre, type of materials and price of individual pieces, a homemade barre can cost under $50 (PVC single barre) to over $100 (steel double barre).

Price: $$ - $$$
Effort Required: Minimum

And if all that seems like too much work, I was able to find portable ballet barres at the sites listed below.  Many of them charge quite a bit for shipping (which is understandable), so it was cheaper to find places located closer to my studio, so I would save on shipping.  Many of the barres on eBay included shipping, but I recommend thoroughly checking out the sellers before bidding on an eBay item so you know exactly what you are getting.

Find more suppliers by doing a Google search

I will let you know what my ballet barre decision ends up being... I am going to decide over Holiday Break (our studio is closed for two weeks).

Here is Part 2 - and which barre I chose
EDIT: Here is Part 3, a review (two years later)


  1. Check out We carry a large variety of professional custom ballet barres. We offer freestanding barres in light steel, heavy steel, aluminum and oak and maple combination barres. We offer them in many sizes, colors and custom image decals. We will built your dream barre ;-)
    Custom Barres - The barres that make you want to DANCE!

  2. Very informative post. I would also like to try at my home. Because after reading this post i think that this process is very easy. I would definitely going to try this..

  3. Let us know how it worked out! I ended up purchasing a semi-assembled one, but might try making one this summer.


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