Harlequin Floors to collaborate with dance academics to protect dancers’ feet from injury

Harlequin Floors, the global leader in advanced technology flooring for dance and performing arts, will support Dr Luke Hopper, one of the world’s authorities on the biomechanics of dance and injury prevention, as well as the specialist dance podiatrist Dr Sarah Carter, from the University of Western Australia, on research looking at protecting young dancers’ feet from injury.

It is hoped the study will provide an important new understanding of the needs of aspiring adolescent dancers for dance floor properties, to support them in their training towards becoming a professional dancer. The research will begin in early 2020 and comes after Dr Carter and Dr Hopper developed a world-first method for assessing the biomechanics of a dancer’s foot, providing new insight into the complexities of feet and how they contribute to dancers’ turnout.

In 2018, intensive research Dr Hopper carried out, which aimed to develop a model of best practice in dance floor design and construction, explored the injury rates, dance perceptions and biomechanics of dancers using different floors. It has since been used by several ballet companies around the world, including the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and also presented in the opening chapter of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science ‘Dancer Wellness’ textbook which is aimed at informing the dance community about best practices in dance floor use.

Hopper’s work with some of the world’s top companies, including the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the UK and the Queensland Ballet in Australia, has seen them since modify their dance floors and change how they and their dancers work. He says that if a performance surface lacked the right absorption properties, dancers could sustain serious injuries. The research will look at developing an understanding of the dance floor properties needed for aspiring adolescent dancers to support them in their training towards a professional dance career.

Harlequin will be disseminating the study findings to the international dance community and building the findings of the study into new product design. As a manufacturer, Harlequin is working closely with these experts and the dance community to develop and refine its range of sprung and vinyl performance floors, that keep dancers safe by reducing the risk of injury.