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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Best floor


jimpickles

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I've just moved house, and my potential practice area has a floor of ceramic tiles on concrete. Is there anything I can lay down to make this more resilient so that it is suitable for practicing things like jumps? I guess this must be a fairly standard issue so I guess that there is a standard solution.

 

I've looked at threads on this board: e.g. one reply from Victoria Leigh that mentioned "nothing short of a sprung wooden floor". There's also a lot of mention of Marley tiles, but the ones I know are about 1/8" thick and not resilient. I've looked on the Marley web site and there's not enough information there.

 

Preferably, also, the flooring should be removable (either rolled up, or carried away in sheets). The commercial Portafloor or Permafloors (made in Canada) would I guess be prohibitively expensive here.

 

I ws wondering about something like one or more plywood sheets laid on foam rubber sheets. Has anyone tried anything like this?

 

Actually, I'd like it to be fairly resilient because I also practice more acrobatic things and tend to fall out of them (but that can be helped if necessary with mats).

 

If there is a best standard and realistic solution for the flooring, I would be very glad to hear.

 

Many thanks indeed for your help if anyone is able to advise,

 

Jim.

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I think the question is how much do you want to spend?

 

Ideally, you would like to have a regular dance studio for home practice. But it’s also probable you don’t want to spend the money to create that, nor do you have the space available for a dedicated dance space.

 

I have done a lot of home practice and continue to do a lot. I will also say that jumping is a problem with home practice. Both lack of space and hard floors are the problem.

 

I always did ballet home practice in a bedroom that I kept for ballet practice. There was no bed in the room (other furniture I had put against the wall). The room had a pad and carpeting that could be rolled back. I would do barre work by rolling aside the carpet and touching the window sill for a barre. By the way I much preferred the window sill to a real live barre. Nothing to grab. For center work, I put the carpet back down. The carpet and pad underneath provided some cushioning. Nevertheless, if I did too much jumping, my joints would pay the price. Hence, jumping at home was always minimal.

 

From a non-dance perspective, people sleeping in the room had to use a real live Japanese futon that was stored behind a bookcase in the room.

 

This space worked well for everything except combinations that traveled a lot. Then you had to exercise some creativity and modify your combinations so that they went side to side rather than across the floor. Generally, it meant that whatever you did for grand allegro wasn’t very fun or interesting. In fact my usual practice was not to do any grand allegro and substitute another petit allegro.

 

I also used to do a 20 minute ballet basics set of exercises, but did them in my kitchen. Essentially that was just some tendus, balances, turns, and developes. Nothing special was needed other than a surface you could turn on.

 

I would (and still do) practice modern and jazz in my garage, which is bigger and has a concrete floor. I wear jazz sneakers, which provides minimal cushioning. I do very very very few jumps and use a pad (also used for yoga or Pilates) for floorwork. This works absolutely fine, though I wouldn’t recommend it for ballet exercises in general.

 

I’ve been taking and practicing Spanish dance in the garage also this year. For that I got a piece of plywood, which turns out to be slightly curved and makes a terrific sound. My joints haven’t seemed to object thus far either.

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I think the question is how much do you want to spend?

 

Thats pretty much correct. About two years ago I priced a number of different floors for a local dance school. I found a traditional, wood, basket weave floor to be the most economical. I could be built on site and did not really require professional floor builders. There are lots of diagrams and such available on line on how to build a basket weave floor. The cost then was about $11 per square foot (US). You can either go with a plywood surface or put marley on top. It can be built in sections for removal but, without a professional builder doing the floor, chances are a sectional floor is too challenging for a novice.

 

Harlequin makes a "sprung foam" which goes down in removable sections. With a "sprung" marley on top it is a pretty good equivilant to a basket weave floor. But if your floor is tile and has irregularities in the way the tile is laid, these will impact the foam. Removing it and getting it laid out correctly could be a real issue. It the tile floor is even, like an industrial tile or the kind you find in any institiutional hallway for example, there should be little problem.

 

There was another company that makes removable, partialy sprung sectional flooring. I forget the name but most dance magazines have ads for them in the back. They looked pretty good but we never tested them.

 

You can also contact Alva's about flooring. They sell inexpesnive kits on line with instructions on how to assmeble and what kind of wood to purchase, etc.

Alva's

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marley gives a surface with the right amount of friction and no splinters. a sprung floor is beneath the marley.

 

you could lay out marley on your floor, but i personally would not do ANY jumps, that's really crazy and asking to get hurt. Still, you can get a lot out of tendu and plie on your marley-on-concrete floor.

 

If you want to jump, you'll have to get a sprung floor. Concrete is the absolute worst for jumping.

 

Most professional dancers I know cannot afford the space and money for a dance floor at home. For the most part, practice is best done in the studio, especially under the eye of a teacher.

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Many thanks for your inputs, which I really appreciate.

 

One thing I'd be glad if people could tell me (a point which occurred to me only after making my post): when you refer to marley are you referring specifically to one brand, or are you using the brand name in a generic sense? Because I now guess that you are referring to what I call vinyl flooring, widely available in many different thicknesses, colurs and textures, used for e.g. bathroom and kitchen floors (it remains to find the right surface texture of course).

 

I guess basket weave is what I call parquet.

 

How much do I want to spend? Well, I have found Australian suppliers for some of the floors suggested by 2 left feet, but havent contacted them yet, though I will do so, so I dont yet know if expense would be an issue with those. I could make a fully suspended wood floor - and would if that was really critical, but (i) I want it to be removable if necessary, and (ii) I dont want it to be too thick as the ceiling is already rather to low. I dont expect to practice big travelling jumps (problems of space), just static or slightly moving ones ones to buld up strength and coordination. I need to do this at home because I need to do it more often than I can get to a studio - and then I am in a class.

 

I appreciate the comments about e.g. marley direct on concrete and would not consider that for even a few jumps (at my age, I want to be very careful of my joints, though damage at any age is probably equally as bad, it just doesnt show till later).

 

With some experimenting, I am now wondering about a thick rather rigid vinyl (marley?) floor laid on top of rubber sheets - like the thin hardish foam sheets you get in camping shops for sleeping on, or rubber underlay if it can be obtained in the right texture.

 

But what I would like information on if anyone knows, is that this will make a floor that is resilient but "dead", rather than "springy" like a wood floor, and whether this is an issue - if anyone knows whether that is critical for ballet practice. I guess many professional stage floors (for reasons of space and construction - a surface laid on concrete) have a similar "dead" surface, and since that is acceptable for performing, must be OK for practice.

 

Many thanks if anyone has any comments,

 

Jim.

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An aside on jumping on concrete floors.

 

Before dancing I was a track coach (throws) for a while. At a clinic, I heard a coach talk about witnessing a world class javelin thrower’s training in Finland. As I recall, the thrower was something like top 3-4 in the world the previous year. And this was in the early 90s, a time when track athletes at the highest level were reasonably well compensated financially. This javelin thrower was doing his plyometrics (serious jumping) on a marble floor! That was essentially all he had available.

 

My point is not that people should be encouraged to jump on hard surfaces (something clearly not optimal or advisable), but that sometimes you just have to do things that are not ideal and somehow make the best of it, or make adjustments to accommodate the conditions you face.

 

I don’t have any good data on this, but at least in sports, I’ve seen many instances of people training in less than ideal circumstances develop a mental toughness that enables them to perform when conditions are less than ideal, while those training in close to ideal circumstances get distracted by the same conditions.

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Marley on foam sounds like it would make balancing difficult. You really need a "live" floor, like a sprung wood floor, or plywood on top of wooden joists (which is not as good, but often sufficient).

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Basket weave is not parquet. Basket weave is a floor that is layered/woven as a basket in various levels. I am not educated on the exact formula, but it is something like 4x4 horizontally, 4x4 laterally in varying layers with plywood to cover, then the "marley" type surface for less slippage.

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I guess many professional stage floors (for reasons of space and construction - a surface laid on concrete) have a similar "dead" surface, and since that is acceptable for performing, must be OK for practice.

 

I would never work in a theatre with a flooring situation like this. I understand a one time deal on occasion, but for regular performing or practice...no. Ouch.

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Lampwick is correct. A surface like that is godawful. The stage is "floated" on a slab of concrete, then the slab is left there because most of these stages are expected to be little more than speaking platforms. Even stages with specialized uses are subject to this phenomenon because of inattention/ignorance of the building management and/or the laziness/forgetfulness of the construction team. After a remake some years ago, New York City's legendary Carnegie Hall was found to have a curiously unpleasant auditory quality, where before, it had been one of the finest halls for concert music. Several years later, it was discovered that the contractors had floated the stage on a slab, to ensure flatness, then had left the concrete in place. The concrete was broken up and removed from underneath, and the hall sounded as wonderful as it had been before.

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Again, thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate the education. There is no point in spending money putting in the wrong surface. I will continue to do my homework on the different floorings available or possible.

 

Incidentally, one place I have classes was built as an aerobics room in a school and has a slighly resilient "dead" rubberised floor, with a textured non-slip surface. Horrible! (but we learn on it).

 

Many thanks for your inputs,

 

Jim.

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