How to Build A Dance Studio at Home
The thrill of being alone in the studio after class, working on pirouettes where no one can watch and correct, is unlike any other. However, squeezing these impromptu rehearsals in between the time your exhausting class ends and when your director kicks you out so she can lock up and go home—well, it isn’t easy!
That’s why a home studio can be a dancer’s best friend and greatest asset.
Here are some cost effective ways to build a makeshift studio in your home without breaking the bank!
Underneath It All
Finding the right surface on which to dance is the most difficult part of building a home studio. Marley mats can cost upwards of $300 and only cover a tiny area, laminate is slippery, and hardwood doesn’t have enough padding. A surprising compromise is PVC Shower Pan Liner. It can be found for between four and eight dollars per linear foot at home improvement stores and feels like marley—for a slice of the price.
To properly cushion the flooring for jumps and other impact movements, an underlay of either cushioned laminate or foam lined subflooring to hardwood is highly recommended.
Once you have a smooth subfloor, laying down your makeshift marley is easy: Use gaffer’s tape (available at home improvement stores as well) to lay the PVC as flat as possible on the floor, smoothing out any and all air bubbles. Tape it into place and voila! Flooring for your pointe work!
Hot Tip: Rosin Reasoning
It never hurts to have rosin on hand in your home studio. A bottle of rock rosin, costing less than twenty dollars, will last you months. It can also make the difference between being scared of slipping and totally confident in the surface of your shoes and floor.
Mirrors, like marley flooring, are also very expensive. If you don’t have the funds for enormous floor-to-ceiling studio mirrors, check out the 12 x 12 inch mirrored tiles that are available at any home improvement supply store. These squares usually come in packs of 10 or more and cost only about one dollar per square foot.
To mount the tiles, place extra strength sticky tabs on all sides of the tile and press them firmly onto the wall. Try and line up the tiles as evenly as possible to create one big, smooth reflection.
For some jazzy décor, you can even add crown molding around the edges of the mirrors, creating the illusion of a frame.
Down at the Barre
When it comes to barres, you have two choices: free standing or mounted on the wall. If you are short on space (a good bet, since your home studio will probably be made in a room currently in use) opt for a wall mounted barre, which will keep the floor free and clear, but still provide a solid place to work.
Many dance supply companies sell wall mount barres with all the fixings, but remember—a barre is just a dowel, a cylindrical piece of wood.
You can purchase a thick dowel (test them out to see what you prefer—anything between one and three inches) and mounting hardware at your local lumber supply store. The mounting hardware will hold the dowel firm onto the wall, no matter how many pirouettes you do.
The beauty of a home studio is that you can work on movements you’re having trouble with without the judging eyes of a teacher or fellow dancer. Take advantage of this freedom and really let go; you may be surprised at what you can do when no one is watching!
Many ballerinas prefer unfinished wood and find that the textured surface helps with balance. If you prefer finished wood, you can easily purchase sandpaper and a wood varnish to get a smoother, more polished look. Be warned though: different varnishes and stains can change the texture of the wood and make it stickier or more slippery, depending on the ingredients.
As such, it’s always best to test the finish on a small piece of the underside of the barre before dousing the entire thing.
Make It Yours
Regardless of the materials you use to construct your at-home dance studio, you should end up with a space that you feel comfortable working in. Customize your space so that you’ll feel good and want to dance your best, whether that means keeping it sparse like in class or covering the walls in decorations.
And of course, make sure to move any and all breakable objects out of the way before attempting those Italian fouettes!