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Creating a Home Ballet Studio


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I have 2 aspiring ballerinas (ages 10 and 12). They really want a proper way to practice at home. I'd like to make a place for them in our basement family room. I need some help in knowing what is best for them. The floor is carpet and pad over concrete. What can I put on top of that to make a safe dance floor? Would plywood with a Marley type surface on top be adequate? Also, I don't want to attach a barre to the wall (for the same reason I don't want to rip up the carpet - we may need to sell this house eventually.) Would a single or double portable barre be best, and how long should it be? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, skippylou. :)


I'm not sure about the best way to do this, in terms of the floor, so I will leave that for Mel Johnson or someone else with experience in that kind of thing.


In terms of the barre, I think a single one should be fine. Many of them have an adjustable height, and the lower barre on the doubles is really only for very small children. It does not need to be very long. I don't know the lengths that they come in, but I would think a small one, maybe 4 or 5 feet long, would be okay.

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Looks like I've been volunteered to fill in on this topic. :wink:


In my opinion, what creates the most difficulty is not the carpeting, but the concrete slab at the very bottom. Concrete is very difficult to dance on, and a sprung floor will have to be "floated" over it. This plan will lead to two different problems: One way or another, the carpeting is going to be compromised, and secondly, raising a sprung floor will result in a decrease in the headroom for the area. You should look again at the available spaces in your house in order to decide whether the basement is the best place for this proposed use. Until then, we can't even begin to address the barres. What the kids want is recreation space, and ballet happens to be their choice of recreation right now. What happens when their interest goes to something else? Home practice, unsupervised, is not often good for the young student, as they are very likely to practice mistakes which will become ingrained, and hard for both students and teachers to break. Best to give this one another round of thought, and then decide if the project is ultimately worth it.

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At that age, my d was also begging for a home ballet "studio". Like yours, our basement was concrete...but her (small) bedroom has a wood floor. So we did a compromise -- re-did her room slightly by putting up 2 hardware-store mirrors, getting a 4-foot portable barre and laying padded marley on the floor, a 4 x 6 piece. The rest of her furniture stayed in the room, working around this open space. What happened over the next several years? She used the barre for stretches and balance work as a beginning pointe student. She stretched and sewed pointe shoes on the marley. That area become a natural place to plop on the floor and do homework. She sat on the floor in front of the mirrors practicing various teenage hair and makeup styles. She marked choreography she was learning and creating. She did not have space to work full out at home...and this was good for safety and working correctly under the eye of a teacher, but the barre did stop her from using my kitchen counters as ballet equipment, and the mirror did allow her to check placement, etc.


Now? She's dancing in college. Her empty bedroom, with that nice marley and the mirrors has become the practice space I am using as a beginning cellist (the thing I promised myself as an empty nester). Now I appreciate the Marley as a good place to put my rock stop (the thing that holds the end of the cello in place) and I use the mirrors to assure proper hand and bowing position. I can rest my cello on the floor between practice sessions...and I can close the door to work without torturing my husband's ears too much! (The padded marley also absorbs sound a bit!)

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