Surface Stories

March 4, 2010

The surface you dance on can play a crucial role in how well you move. Whether the floor is uneven, sticky or slippery, it can significantly influence your performance by causing injuries or forcing you to modify choreography. When I was in 7th grade, my friends and I learned this lesson the hard way while performing a hybrid tap and jazz routine to The Jackson 5’s “Rockin’ Robin.” The number worked great in the studio, but as soon as we hit the stage, tappers started sliding and falling. One even sprained her ankle! The stage was more slippery than the studio floor and it caught us by surprise.


Dancers across the spectrum encounter similar surface-related challenges all the time—especially when they’re forced to perform under unusual conditions. A few DS readers recently shared their craziest dance floor moments. Here are our favorites:

Hot Feet

A few summers ago I danced at an outdoor community event with my studio in Greencastle, PA. Our teacher had told us to wear sneakers because she assumed we’d be dancing on concrete. But there was an acro mat available when we arrived, so we decided to dance on that instead. My partner and I decided to wear socks for our lyrical duet so that we would be able to perform all of the movements full out. We felt fine that afternoon, but the next morning we both woke up with blisters all over our feet. It had been 80 or 90 degrees outside on the afternoon of our performance and the sun had heated up the mat to the point that it burned our feet!—Whitney Fetterhof, a senior dance major at George Washington University

When It Rains, It Pours

I was a dancer in a rock musical called [ital: Falco] in Vienna, Austria, in 2002. During dress rehearsal the director decided there should be a rain scene, so the crew rigged the stage to rain on us while we were dancing. The first time we came running out to try the scene, the entire cast went sliding and we all fell over! We tried to do turns but our feet kept slipping. The choreographer, Teddy Wilcox, decided we should all wear army boots for traction, but of course we couldn’t do pirouettes in them. We couldn’t do leaps either—a few dancers pulled their backs trying to do jetés in the heavy boots. The original choreography for that scene was amazing, but most of it had to be cut to accommodate the rain. —Tom Richardson, dancer and choreographer

Rink Hijinks

The Brigham Young University Cougarettes have danced at the annual Las Vegas Bowl pep rally for the past five years. Three years ago, the girls had to perform on an ice rink that had simply been covered by cardboard, which moved as the girls danced. They performed about five times throughout the evening and every time they stepped off the area, they told me how lucky they were not to have broken their necks! To compensate for the poor surface, the girls couldn’t do any turns or tricks. They had to avoid a lot of our technical jazz moves and stick to our pom choreography. —Jodi Maxfield, Spirit Coordinator and Cougarette Dance Team Artistic Director, Brigham Young University

Mixing It Up On Cement

I used to belong to a modern and jazz troupe that was once asked to perform at a local shopping mall. We were asked to do a couple of numbers and repeat them every half hour throughout the day. Our performance space was an empty store with bare cement floors. There wasn’t an elevated stage, so I ended up developing tendonitis after a full day of leaping and jumping on the unforgiving surface. —Annie-Danielle Grenier, Montreal, Canada


Do you have a similar story to share? Tell us about it by sending an e-mail to [email protected]!