Please all kinds of dancing feet: some floors are made for more than one genre.
When Andrea Paris-Gutierrez moved her studio five years ago, she rolled up her floors and took them with her.
Despite the studio's name--the Los Angeles Ballet Academy--it also offers jazz, tap, hip hop, and even Pilates classes to more than 350 students six days a week. Though the dance styles vary in each of the studio's three rooms, all have a sub-floor topped with a multipurpose durable marley that provides sure footing for any kind of class.
If you have limited space and lots of genres, flooring experts agree you should pick something that everyone can use. "It avoids scheduling problems," says Claire Londress, American Harlequin's marketing manager. "Otherwise if there are three tap classes at once but only one tap studio, there's an issue."
A studio with a single focus has the option of using a floor that works best for that genre. "You want to match your activity to your floor system," says Stagestep president Randy Swartz. "Ask yourself, 'Do I have the luxury of a specific studio for just ballet, or just one studio for consecutive classes?'"
When picking a multipurpose floor, studio owners need to consider whether they expect to have the space permanently, as well as the floor's cost, texture, and maintenance. "If a studio is renting their space, they want to make sure that whatever floor they get is non-permanent," says Londress. "So if they want a sprung floor, they should consider panels. Then the vinyl on top should be put down temporarily, either loose-laid or put down with double-sided tape, not adhesive."
Harlequin's Cascade model has proved their most popular multipurpose floor. The long list of those who have chosen it speaks to its versatility: American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Montgomery College, Harvard University, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, and Just for Kix studios, to name a few. The floor holds up well to high traffic, Londress notes. "Steps on Broadway has that model throughout their building," she says. "They've been there for years and that place never closes! They're going from early in the morning to late at night. As long as a floor is cleaned properly it can last."
Some studios that focus on one particular genre--tap, for instance--never consider a marley multipurpose. But because nails in the shoes act like a chisel, Matt Lincir, Alva's president, feels marley can work well for studios that teach other genres in addition to tap. "Tap dancers are really into the sound," he says, "but marley only cuts out the highest frequencies." He also feels it's easy to keep up. "Just use a mix of one quarter vinegar to three-quarters hot watch," he says. "Smells like Greek salad for an hour or two, but the vinegar cuts through the sweat."
There are nearly as many subfloors to choose from as surfaces. Like many floormakers, Alva's offers a do-it-yourself kit that includes loam blocks, instructions, a jig, screws, and a phone number to call for help. When Paris-Gutierrez's studio moved, they chose it and got memories as well as great looking floors. "Two parents spearheaded the project," she says. "We asked for volunteers. It was a bonding experience and the kids got to see what went into putting all that together."
Paris-Gutierrez points out a simple way to keep floors in great shape is to have students change into their dance shoes while in the studio to avoid bringing in any external dirt and grime. "If they want a great floor," she says. "they have to participate in helping to take care of it."
If your studio is focused specifically on tap or ballet, consider wood flooring rather than marley. For ballet or ballroom, Ed O'Mara, president of O'Mara Flooring, recommends birch, a slightly softer wood. For percussive dance styles like tap and flamenco, maple is more durable and gives a more resonant sound. O'Mara notes that the wood quality should be a concern. "Even if you're building a sprung sub-floor, ask questions about the material," he says. "A sub-floor panel made with chips of wood that are pressed together has no resilience. It doesn't give you anything back when you dance on it." Above all, O'Mara urges dancer safety. "Sometimes the floor is the last thing you put in, but it's the most important because having the best dance floor keeps people from getting injured."--E.M.
California Portable Dance Floor
Dance Equipment Intl.
O'Mara Sprung Floors
Emily Macel is an associate editor at Dance Magazine.
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|Date:||Aug 1, 2008|
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