DIY dance studio

Although I’m terrible at it, I really love ballet and I really love to pretend I’m outrageously talented.

I take classes just twice a week, far less than adequate for a late-blooming ballerina who is both simultaneously at the start of her career and at the end of her career. But at $15 to $17 a pop for a drop-in adult beginner class twice a week for 75 to 90 minutes, it gets a bit pricey.

In a world where I ruled, I’d have my very own Russian ballet teacher and/or share her with a few dance peers (all of whom I’d be better than) and have lessons 4 days a week, each being two-hour sessions. Alas, I don’t rule the world—yet—and dance culture does not cater to 28-year-old wannabe ballerinas who discovered their ambition and love of dance far too late in life. Especially not to those with bank accounts that top out at coins stuck in couch cushions. Tutus are expensive.

Photo 51

So, what’s a girl to do with a prima ballerina dancing inside her just waiting to escape? Why, she’s to build her own studio, of course, where she’s the principal dancer every day! Those plies and pirouettes don’t do themselves, after all.

A few blogs ago, I wrote about the home dance studio the somewhat psychotic character, Tiffany, had in the movie Silver Linings Playbook. It’s my dream to have a dance studio like that (with perhaps more chandeliers and less crazy) in my own home one day. But, alas, right now, I’m renting a one-bedroom apartment with limited space for me, my clothes, and my cat.

Lack of space, budget, and property ownership doesn’t stop me! There are three main things necessary to having a functional ballet-your-ass-off studio that can fit into nearly any dance enthusiast’s life:

  • A barre. Not a bar. A barre is for warm-ups, stretching, tendus, etc. A bar is for drinking and poor decisions. I do welcome an innovative combination of the two: a barre-bar, because pirouettes improve exponentially when you’re drunk.
  • A mirror. Most studios have lots of mirrors but mirrors are heavy, expensive, and if you break one—bad luck. One will do the trick, preferably tall and able to move about, ie: not heavier than a hippo nor hermetically sealed to the wall.
  • Floor space and non-carpeted floor. If there isn’t enough room to do a grand battement in the space you’re in, injury is imminent and so is a premature halt to a meager career. If the floor is carpeted, static electricity and friction are blocking even the best, mediocre talent. Find a space and find a smooth, sturdy floor (such as laminate) if wall-to-wall carpeting lines every room but the bathroom. Dance floors can be expensive, so be inventive.

I went online and shopped for barres. I didn’t expect to find anything, but I found a plethora! People are just as wacky as me, after all! I eventually selected a  brand called Vita Vibe. Is it as pretty as the ornate, wooden bar crafted by fairies I coveted? No. But it’s light (only 10 pounds), portable, easy to assemble, inexpensive, and had free shipping. I chose the 5-foot length because I’m in my late 20s—I could have a growth spurt at any moment and a girl’s gotta stretch.

Next, I overcame my carpet dilema with flooring from Home Depot. At $20, I found “Glentown Oak Glueless Laminate Flooring with Click Installation and a Natural Wood Grain Look and Feel.”  The flooring snapped together easily and rests evenly on my icky, old carpet. One “Glentown Pack” pack can reach a size of 6.5 feet by 4.5 feet. I only used half, so the other half is for a friend! It’s like the newest version of BFF heart necklaces!

With a mirror already in my possession that meets the standards of light, easy to move, and cheap, my studio was complete.

The result…


My very own dance studio! (Cat not included.)

My very own dance studio! (Cat not included.)

This new studio benefits both me and Pancake. I can’t deprive my cat of her love of the arts, she seldom gets to the Kennedy Center to view any sort of ballet anymore. Although, she’s an interactive audience member, always getting under foot…


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