Today we are going to talk about the importance of a properly equipped and maintained dance studio. This is not just for vanity and comfort but there are real reasons for these points that will allow for you and your dancer to remain free of injury and illness.
First lets talk flooring. Nothing makes me cringe more than tile floor, or laminate laid over concrete. We need to remember that concrete has no give, neither does ceramic tile. Simply put, with bad flooring and bad technique, you are bound to get injured. A lack of absorption from the floor and through the biomechanics of how you move, repeated over and over as we do when dancing will put excessive strain on particular muscles, ligaments and bones and lead to chronic pain and injuries such as Stress Fractures and tendonitis. A sprung hardwood or vinyl floor are the best options for your dance floor because they have give when the dancer lands, providing some support for their body rather than jostling them upon impact.
It is also important to think about how slippery the floor is which can lead to additional injuries if your dancer falls. Again hardwood and vinyl conduct heat better so they provide your dancer the ability to glide and turn without it turning into a slippery ice rink. Also-is the floor level? If a studio is not maintaining holes in the floor, dips and dings-those are chances for someone to twist an ankle. I have heard countless stories about places where dancers have to “avoid” parts of the dance floor because of dents and dips or spaces in the floor. If a studio is charging you to have your child attend-they need to figure out how to keep up the floor for safetys’ sake. End of story.
Is your facility clean? You may think I am being picky but are the surfaces washable? The floors, lockers, etc. Human beings carry germs and viruses. Dancers are often barefoot. You do the math. If surfaces cannot be washed down and disinfected you are opening yourself and your dancer up to constant swapping of germs. Which brings me to the next point-does your studio clean? I am not talking about the stray ballet slipper or sock which is likely to strike even the most immaculately maintained dance facility. I am talking about if they make sure the bathrooms and studios are cleaned regularly and common areas as well to make sure the building does not smell. Remember if it smells-imagine what you CAN’T see. Ick.
Do they properly heat the facility? This may again seem silly but proper dance attire is minimal. A leotard and tights does not provide much insulation. I can clearly remember dancing in freezing rooms and you think when you are moving it will cease to matter-wrong. There is a clear distinction between keeping the temperature down to save on the heating bill and having it so low that it puts the dancer at risk to injury. Think of it this way-water freezes as it becomes cold. Muscles constrict. A tightened muscle is more likely to pull or tear which results in time off and possible medical interventions and physical therapy.
My final thought is hot water. Again you may think “really?” . Yes really. Here is why. You need to wash your hands to clean them. Hot water kills germs more effectively. Have you tried to rinse off soap with ice cold water? Terrible. Plus no small child deserves frost bitten hands from washing them in the sink. If your studio is not investing in warm water for your dancer to wash their hands and the hands of the instructors who are coming in contact with your child, this is an issue. Remember how you were taught to sing the ABC’s while washing your hands? No one is going to withstand ice cold water for 26 letters.
Bottom line these things matter when you are shopping for a dance facility or if you are currently enrolled in one, think about these things. It is important for the overall health and safety of you and your dancer. Remember that no one regulates dance facilities and that you have to be educated about what to look for to make the best investment of time and money.