The Matter of a Dance Floor Matters

Much like a dancer, a sprung dance floor is always becoming a better version of itself. To date, and at Ballet Academy, it is composed of six layers. Layers one, two and three are 1 x 4’s laid 16 inches apart on center. This is referred to as a basket weave. Layers four and five are plywood. The sixth and final layer is vinyl. The installation is expensive and tedious. However, the payoff is injury prevention and a longer recreational or professional dance life.

The three-layer basket weave has neoprene rubber pads attached to the first layer to further aid in absorbing the impact of jumps, leaps and all repetitive motion. It also counters fatigue. Without the sprung floor, energy on impact is returned to the dancer’s body: feet, ankles, shins, joints, tendons, back, etc. The immediate results are dancers who tire easily. He or she feels the affects and spectators can see it in their movement. The long-term results are aches, pains, and injuries.

Layers four and five are plywood and serve a couple of roles. Layer four is thick tongue and groove plywood adding strength and stability to the floor. Layer five is finished plywood –thin and smooth. The layers together leave no unsupported seams and the dance floor becomes one flat surface.

The vinyl sub-floor creates the right amount of traction for the movement. Without the right amount dancers forego proper technique to compensate for a slippery or gripping floor. Again, this comes down to injury prevention. On slippery surfaces, dancers grip their toes, tense their muscles, and exert cautious energy versus productive energy. On a surface that grips excessively, joints twists and tendons overstretch.

Learning correct dance technique can be hindered or enhanced by flooring because the movements happen according to how we relate to and use the floor. The saying goes, “Once a dancer always a dancer” because dance awakens the mind and soul. Therefore, it should be the goal of dance educators to keep students dancing for a lifetime while remaining physically safe not only by teaching technique correctly but by having them on the proper dance floor.