My neighbor called me one morning to ask about the best dance school for her daughter. She had earlier enrolled her daughter in a dance school, which was not that good, and her daughter refused to go back to the school. My neighbor didn’t want to make another mistake this time around, so she was doing as much research as she can. She wanted to know whether the flooring too was important, as somebody had mentioned it to her. I told her that it was in fact a very important part.
Concrete floors do not absorb the impact while dancing, resulting in the body facing the brunt. Floating floors are more favorable, as they absorb the energy and reduce overuse injuries and other physical issues that the concrete floors cause. They in fact provide cushioning and consistency for the dancer.
Impact on body
Whenever our foot strikes ground, the vibrations are felt all through the body as energy shockwaves, causing trauma to hip, knee, and lower back and ankle regions. In fact, running and jumping lead to trauma and a non-floating type of dance floor can lead to sprains, splints and worse injuries.
All dancers should be concerned about the shock absorbing capacity of the floor and its ability to dissipate energy and give back resilient energy. When there is no give or spring in the floor, it will create a negative impact on your ankles and knees.
Different dance floor types
In essence, a dance floor should be comfortable and easy to dance on. And the type of floor depends on the dance type you are learning. Ballet dancers require surfaces that are slip resistant, while modern dancers who dance on bare feet need the floating type of floors. Tappers need both a non-slip and floating surface. For theatre and ballroom dance, a fast surface with lesser non-slip quality is required.
A sprung floor also referred to as floating floor, is the optimal type of flooring that suites all dance styles mostly. It has a soft feel and absorbs shocks effectively. While the modern day sprung floors have rubber feet or foam backing, the traditional floorings used mechanical cushioning.
Layers of flooring
The topmost dance floor layer is made of laminate, engineered wood or hardwood and is the performance surface. The wood when finished with appropriate tools gives good cushioning effect. The sub layer is mostly made of concrete or other materials. While ideal flooring denotes a sprung type of floor, you can also use a floor done over a wood frame, instead of on concrete to get the needed spring.
Sub floors consists of cushioning, surfacing and base where the base is of concrete in commercial settings and in single storied buildings, while in the upper levels the base is made of plywood done over joists of wood. Cushioning effect is got by using rubbers or foams, which are in form of sheets. Mechanical cushioning consists of wooden slats that are crisscrossing in style.
While hardwood is the standard performance surface for ballroom dances, it is not so for other dance forms. Vinyl flooring is best for fast movements like in modern dance, tap, jazz, ballet and other related forms.