Ensure you make the right moves on the dance floor

The approach needed when creating a floor for a specialised use is often more ‘bespoke’ than it may seem. Steve Green of Harlequin Floors explains how dance floors differ from standard sports floors, and how correct design is critical for safety

may not be the commissioning clients, but they are the crucial end users. Major dance companies understand this, which is why it is not uncommon for them to ask their dancers to ‘test’ floors before the final choice is made.

Correlating this subjective evaluation of floors by dancers with objective measurement criteria has prompted several research studies, particularly in the field of biomechanics.

Architects and flooring manufacturers both have an important role to play in ensuring the right floor is specified to give dancers a safe environment

rofessional dancers can spend hours working in a dance studio; it is their place of work and should offer a safe environment fit for purpose. The floor is a dancer’s most important tool, not only is it the canvas for their creativity but it also gives them protection against slips, falls and long-term stress injuries.


Experienced dancers can judge a dance floor instinctively and if it feels right, they can effectively forget about the floor and concentrate on their artistic performance. A good floor instils confidence in dancers, a confidence that comes from a reassurance they are not going to slip and fall, that lifts can be performed safely, and that the floor will consistently return the right amount of energy absorption when landing following jumps.

When specifying floors for dance, architects should remember that dancers


One example was led by dance scientist and biomechanics expert Dr Luke Hopper, who has undertaken pioneering research investigating the effects of dance floors on dancer performance and injury. Dr Hopper explained that dance floors are an integral part of the dance environment, yet little information is available for the dance community on how dance floors may affect dancer performance and injury. For the dedicated dancer striving to improve, injury can sadly be an all too common occurrence. Research has reported 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 floors’ properties.

Dance institutions are now able to use this information and work with dancers in creating dance environments with the aims of helping dancers to dance better, stronger and for longer.

Another eminent researcher in this field is Dr Boni Retitled, orthopaedic surgeon and Past President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS). Dr Rietveld observed that there is a distinction to make between injuries caused by the floor and those caused accidentally. As far as the former are concerned, it is evident that there is a cause and effect relationship between dancers’


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