A good quality dance floor is essential for dancers to ensure that they have a safe and comfortable environment to perform in.
As the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of sprung and vinyl floors for dance and the performing arts, Harlequin continues to work closely with the dance community and experts from IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine & Science) and NIDMS (National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science) to continue to research and develop floors that protect and support dancers.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing the right dance floor. Who is going to be dancing in the studio? What is the genre of dance? What shoes will be used? How often will the studio be in use? Harlequin ensures that these questions are addressed with each client, ensuring that the sprung floor and vinyl top surface align with the intended purpose of the studio.
Why is a dance floor so important?
Experienced dancers can judge a good floor instinctively. If it feels right, they can forget about the floor and concentrate on their artistic performance without worrying about slipping, falling or damaging their joints by jumping on hard or inconsistent floors. Major dance companies understand this, which is why some organisations ask their dancers to test the floors before the final choice is made.
Why aren’t sports floors suitable for dance?
There are certain requirements that distinguish the difference between a dance floor and a sports floor. Sports like basketball tend to need a firm floor which allows balls to bounce predictably. As the floor is firmer, sports footwear is generally more cushioned to prevent impact injuries as well as providing the sportsperson with extra grip.
By contrast, a dancer’s footwear, depending on the genre of dance, does not include as much cushioning. Therefore, the dancer needs more absorption from the floor itself in order to land from jumps safely. Dancers also need the right traction from the dance surface which they would not get from a generic sports floor.
What research has been carried out to prove why a dance floor is necessary?
Over the years scientists have carried out various tests, particularly in the field of biomechanics, to investigate the effects that different flooring can have on a dancer.
Dance scientist and biomechanics expert Dr Luke Hopper felt that injury occurrence was too common in dance. Through his own research he found that “dancers can be required to perform on substandard floors which were shown to affect ankle joint stress during dance movements. Dancers also demonstrated the distinct ability to sense changes in dance floor properties.”
Dr Boni Rietveld, previously an orthopaedic surgeon at the Centre for Medicine, Dance and Music in The Hague, Netherlands and past President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) also said: “It is evident that there is a cause and effect relationship between dancers’ injuries and the floor on which they perform.”
More information on Dr Luke Hopper’s and Dr Boni Rietveld’s research can be found in Harlequin’s whitepaper ‘Specifying Dance Floors’. As well as this, it covers more detail on why a dance floor is so important for the safety of dancers.