The tests and methods used to evaluate the performance of dance surfaces are similar to those used to evaluate sports surfaces, however the dancers and athletes have different preferences regarding how the surface responds. It is for this reason that I developed this brief summary of dance performance standards.
I have been involved in testing and evaluating dance surfaces for some time. In 2001, just before founding ASET Services, I worked with a group of dance surface designers and manufacturers to evaluate a wide variety of dance systems. These individuals were working with ESTA (Entertainment Services and Technology Association) to develop a new performance standard for live performance, and rehearsal venues. This project resulted in all of the data that is included in Appendices B and C of ANSI E1.26 (2006).
ANSI E1.26 provides standard methods for testing dance floors. These methods are valid for both laboratory and field studies. The standard includes methods for Shock Absorption, Standard Deformation and Deformation Depression. Shock Absorption is a measure of the dance floors ability to reduce impact forces when compared to concrete. Standard Deformation is a measure of how far the dance floor moves during a nomalized (1500 N) impact. Deformation Depression is a measure of how far and well vibrations generated by one dancer transmit through the floor and potentially disrupt the activities of nearby dancers. All of the methods included in this standard are identical to those used in DIN 18032-2, EN 14904 and ASTM F2772.
ANSI E1.26 does not technically contain requirements. It does however provide the following recommendations in Section 5:
- Uniformity: The tested properties at any point on the floor shall be within 5% of the average value. (This applies to shock absorption, as the neither of the other values can hope to achieve this level.)
- Acceptable shock absorption levels shall be a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 65%
- Acceptable standard deformation levels shall not exceed 5 mm
- Acceptable deformation depression shall not exceed 20%
Now I am going to include a bit of my personal experiences with regard to dance floor performance levels and the preferred ‘feel’ of the dancer. I stated before that ANSI E1.26 uses methods common to DIN 18032-2, EN 14904 and ASTM F2772, and but dancers an athletes ask their floors to perform differently and thus prefer dramatically different feeling floors. I believe that is due to the nature of the athletic movements common to each group. Sports athletes tend to land and then prepare for their next activity, in other words repeated jumps are rare for this group. Dancers have a choreographed performance often requiring a series of timed dance moves involving a number of rapidly performed jumps and landings. These standards do not capture this preferred ‘feeling’ and thus it is possible for a dancer to be satisfied with one surface that provides 50% shock absorption levels while not liking another surface with identical performance levels as measured by ASNI E1.26.
Another key component of dance floors is their covering. Dance facilities tend to cover their floors with product generically referred to as ‘Marley’. This is a synthetic product and can be as thin as 1/8″ or as thick as 7/16″. We can test multiple thicknesses of coverings over the main structural system of the floor, providing information about how the ‘Marley’ contributes to the overall performance of the floor. We also have the ability to conduct friction tests on these surfaces using a standardized method (ASTM E303).
Contact us if you have further questions regarding dance floor performance or to schedule a laboratory or field evaluation of your dance floor. We have served manufacturers, installers, designers and owners. We have evaluated new surfaces to ensure that they performed as specified and we have evaluated existing venues to determine if they meet the recommendations of ANSI E1.26.
By: Paul W. Elliott, PhD, PE, CPSI
Feb 1, 2016