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Raising the Barre

Ballet barre: A generous hallway is transformed.


With six people under one roof, the Victorias can sometimes feel like they’re stretched thin between home, school, practices, games and rehearsals. The family of six — parents Eugene and Andrea, plus kids Ben, 17; Caleb, 15; Isabella, 13; Eleanor, 9, and an 8-month old French-English bulldog puppy — are the quintessential sporty family, living in the Woodside neighborhood of Renton.

With athletic roots in dance, football, soccer and basketball, this rambunctious family is bursting at the seams with athletic ability, but found that their sports put them at a disadvantage for togetherness. With the girls heavily immersed in the British Dancing Academy doing ballet, modern, tap and jazz, Eugene had a lightbulb moment on how to allow the girls to practice at home.

“I will give credit to Eugene, because he is the one who thought to use the space as a place for the girls to stretch and practice,” says Andrea. “He said, ‘Let's get the girls a dance pole!’ The ballerinas in the house were horrified! After we got over the shock and laughter, Eleanor finally corrected him and said, ‘Dad, it's not a dance pole. It's a barre!’”


Eleanor and Isabella at the barre.

Eugene took the lead on designing and creating a miniature, in-home ballet studio. He measured the length of the wall (formerly inhabited by the laundry piles), and after a quick trip to Home Depot, had everything he needed to make a space that would allow the girls to practice in the comfort of home. The barre consists of simple L-shaped brackets and a wooden handrail. The girls prepped to take their ballet exams last month.

Future DIY plans include a tap floor. “My girls turned one of my photography backgrounds — a piece of plywood painted black — into a makeshift tap board,” says Andrea. “Adding a surface for them to tap on is definitely going to be one of next additions to the little dance studio.”

The girls use the barre more during dance exam and performance times, but mainly it gives them their space to dance. “There is always dancing in one form or another in the Victoria household,” says Andrea. “[Even] a trip to Trader Joe's is not complete without a little tap dancing and maybe some progressions in the produce section.”

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