Post by Kris Kramer, Corporate Gifts Officer and former MCB dancer
One morning, before the Summer Intensive Program began, I ran into our Production and Lighting Director, John Hall. John was in his normal friendly demeanor and I immediately struck up a conversation with him. Since he had a pad of paper in one hand and a pen in the other, I asked him what he was up to. “I’m counting barres,” he replied. As he filled me in on what he was doing and why he was up to this “barre tab,” I instantly thought, “Our blog followers need to know about this!”
John explained that he was taking inventory of the barres mainly to get prepared for the 211 dance students that would arrive from all over the world for Miami City Ballet School’s Summer Intensive Program. Since there is such an influx of dancers during the five weeks, MCB needs to make sure we have enough equipment for the students.
His tally was up to 50 barres. Fifteen of the 50 were aluminum, light-weight barres that couldn’t be used because they were uncomfortable for the students. As a former dancer with the School and Company, I would never choose these aluminum barres when I took class. On the rare occasion I had to use one, it was always frustrating. If I was doing a hard combination and was relying on the support of the barre, it wasn’t there and that prevented me from getting the most benefits from the exercise. I would say they were mostly a nuisance, as these barres are so light you can pick them up with one hand. I was glad to hear that John was getting rid of them.
Since there was going to be a reduction in the barre tab, John continued to explain to me that they were going to buy 20 new barres. These barres are white and have two parallel bars at the top spaced about a foot apart. This makes it easier to accommodate dancers of different heights and allow them to move more gracefully through different exercises and stretch at different intensities. In addition, they are relatively easy to adjust. Dancers often adjust the height of the barres before their warm up exercises depending on their height so their hands hold the barre at a certain angle, a little less than 45 degrees from their torso. These barres are $200 each. So with 20 new ones, MCB will have to cough up a $4,000 barre tab. Ouch!
John shared this last tid bit with me. The 12 barres that travel with the Company from theater to theater were being brought into the studios as well. This would help accommodate the 211 Summer Intensive students during their training and bring the barre count to 67 in total. Three or four students to a barre is perfect in my book so I think John got his number right.
As I walked to my desk on the third floor administration level, I remembered there was even another type of barre used here. They are big, heavy, metal barres and usually need to be carried around the studios by two dancers. These mostly stay with the professional dancers, but will be used by the students over the Summer Intensive Program and were also figured into John’s 67 count. I sat down at my desk and had a final thought: “Wow! even the barres around Miami City Ballet can be so interesting.”