The high barre
: An investigation of barre for the performing arts in higher education

  • Jill Rose Jacobs

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Barre is a popular exercise regimen in the United States and United Kingdom that is currently understood as a fitness programme. This thesis proposes that Barre also may be understood as an arts-based programme, as it was originally intended by its founder, Lotte Berk, and highly suitable for the performing arts in higher education, with potential applications in the fields of medicine, rehabilitation, health & wellness, and education.

New information about Barre is presented through ethnographic interviews, critical analysis of the existing literature and media sources, and two case studies, offering a means by which to understand the origins and evolution of Barre and how the methodology can be tailored to benefit learners in varied environments.

Dr Matthew Rodger, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University, Belfast, notes in The High Barre video-documentary: "I certainly hadn’t engaged in the idea of dance as having the different kinds of benefits both beyond movement but also psychologically and neurologically that she’s [Jill] has been able to point towards. It certainly has opened my eyes to what dance as an art form and as a mode of education can do ... So, all of this is pointing to a story in which dance is good not just for movement but also for motivation, for emotion, and sense of self because it has to do with the way that the brain and the body connect to each other, and they’re not just distinct parts… This may allow us to infer that in the kind of Barre training that Jill has developed, what may be going on in the brain because of the complexity of the movement and the skillful nature of it, is actually more advantageous than just moving for its own sake as a kind of physical activity."

Note that Appendices C and D are redacted (pp. 113-139) for commercial reasons.

Thesis embargoed until 31 December 2026
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorFranziska Schroeder (Supervisor) & Matthew Rodger (Supervisor)


  • Barre/dance
  • performing arts curricula
  • dance education
  • Lotte Berk

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