Ballet Etiquette – Center Barre Hand Placement

Are you playing hand tango every time you stand at center barre? It can be annoying when you’re trying to work and someone else’s hand has a death grip on the barre space that’s logically yours. Here’s a tip to improve your hand switcheroo and maybe teach your barre mates some hand placement etiquette.


Depending on the size of the barre will determine how many people can share the space. Ideally you should be able to fully extend your leg forward and back without touching your neighbor. If you’re in a crowded class you may have to compromise some space.

  • Place your left hand on the barre. This will automatically arrange one side of the barre facing one direction with the other in the opposite. 
  • Now make sure that you’re staggered. The person in front should place their hand closest to the end of the barre. This will allow freedom to slide you hand along the barre during a combination. Allow 5-8 inches between your hand and your neighbors that’s face in opposition. 

Demi Détourné 

Now for the switcheroo!

  • After completing a combination on the first side, rise to sous-sus.
  • As you turn into the barre both arms find first position. Continue your rotation to face the second side. 
  • Now you should automatically be in the correct position. Once again, the person in front should have their hand closest to the end. 

In my experience set-up is key. If your at a center barre and notice people aren’t setting up correctly, be an example. Prior to class beginning, ask your barre mates to shift to fulfill proper placement. After the first combination you’ll be happy you did and hopefully they will be too.

Happy Dancing!