Hi, it's April. Welcome to Dancers Call-to-Action. The place to be for the dancer looking for confidence, knowledge and tools for moving forward.
Happy Wednesday, Dancers. Today we are getting super practical. No mindset stuff, no theory. Today we're talking about how to build your own dance studio or dance space at home. To be Frank, this is not a subject I ever planned on talking about. It just didn't cross my radar, which is obviously because my job is at a studio. So sadly, it just never occurred to me to talk about this. But, one of the modules that we go through in Unify has to do with how the heck you train, maintain and excel your skills at home, when you have those seasons where you just can't get to a studio or don't live near one. Having a space to move around is priceless, and today I'm going to give you the basics and hopefully cover most budgets. Now I often think about one of my first apartments and how if I could go back to an earlier time where I had less obligations and less things to do and people to take care of; I would gladly forfeit my living room and turn it into a dance studio. Dance rules everything around me. Dream. Get the money.. Okay, sorry. Moving on. I present you with six steps to creating a dance space of your own.
Step number one, decide what is important to you. What is the foundation you want to train? What would you most like to work on? As I mentioned earlier, we do a module on this in Unify and we go through what training requires, what kind of space. So let me say that there are options for almost everything, but before we get caught in the glamour, of a shiny new space, you have to decide what's important to you and what you want the space for; and then you also need to, pick a space. Some of you have a guest room or a basement or like me, some of you only have a corner. That's all I had in college, a corner of my bedroom that I turned into a tiny space for movement. It's true that a smaller space changes what you can use it for, but it's also true that you can find a way to make most anything worthwhile.
Consider that Tappers can easily practice everything from timestamps to shovels, to wings in a small space. That bar work needs very little space, that hip-hop combos rarely traveled too much, and that strengthening work can be done in a tiny space. There is a ton of possibilities, so don't feel limited. One of the reasons that I have stayed in my humble abode, the one I live in right now, versus buying a bigger place is maintenance. I just don't have room in my life to take care of more things. Simplicity is beautiful, less cleaning, less maintaining, less decorating, and a small space is just easier to get up and running for less money. So large spaces also delightful, but I just want to make it clear that you can use almost anything you can get your hands on. So next we need to equip your space; that we're going to talk about mirrors, floors, sound, and extras.
Moving into mirrors, in my next small studio, after that little corner of the room I had in college, I got my mirrors off of Craigslist. They were advertised as construction site leftovers. So I got two huge pieces for $75 bucks total. Now in terms of mirrors, I've been all over in budget. I've done the $75 on Craigslist. In that little apartment that I mentioned, I just got a full length, dressing mirror from Walmart. I've gone through local glass companies and that was the most expensive though, included install. So I would say that my favorite, was a smaller studio that I equipped with mirrors from Lowe's. The studio itself was about 450 square feet and I covered one wall in mirrors. I think it came out to about $150 to $200 for the entire wall. David installed them and he used these small mirror clips that you drill into the wall and then you rest the mirror just in-side, which is also cheap at any hardware store, but you do want someone with a little bit of finesse to install them.
I recommend those clips or to put down a track. I don't recommend gluing. We've done the gluing thing. It's a nightmare and it's quite permanent. I've also seen people find mirrors at restore locations and from places that are going out of business. Recently, I was at Ikea and I saw a free standing full length mirror, which would negate the need to install anything at all. So, just a word of caution. One thing to try not to do is buy a lot of smaller mirrors, hoping to make one big one, because the time and complication of install will make it honestly not worth it and you'll probably end up spending just as much. But when it comes to mirrors, Craigslist has always been my best friend. You can find a good size mirror, inexpensive in multiple locations.
Okay, let's talk floors. This is a big one. First, It's not always necessary. So if you can save the expense, do so. If you live in a space or using a space that already has laminate or hardwood floor, you're good to go. Even if you have vinyl or tile, it could work. If you're doing simple bar work or simple choreography, carpet is the most difficult, but it still works for some. Again, it always goes back to the foundation. What are you training for? Carpet, cement, hard services with no give, are not okay if you're going to be jumping around; you need shock absorption for your joints, if you're going to be doing anything big and heavy. So let me give you four options to think about for flooring. Now, the most expensive would be a quote, unquote, "proper floor". This would be a wood sprung floor with an overlay or something like a wood step floor, which is this shock absorbing vinyl.
Sort of a marley material. If you decide to do a wood sprung floor, there are some really good tutorials on YouTube. And if someone in your life is particularly handy.. Honestly, this is the route I would have taken had I known back then. There's a really popular video, where this woman is installing a wood sprung floor in her brand new studio and her husband and her use pool noodles. You know, the big pool noodles. They cut off these chunks of them and it goes under the initial layer of plywood. And that's what provides the shock absorption. It's really fascinating. And if you go down in the comments, it's been years and the floor is still holding up quite well. So there's, there's definitely options for getting what you need there. The next step would be a modular floor, which are those interlocking tiles. If you were to go to Amazon and put, gridlock, I think is what it's; no, maybe, they work in very specific cases.
They are pricey, but they're portable and they just lay down, like a mat so you can take them with you. But I'm going to tell you right off the bat, I'm not a fan of them. I don't like the way they feel in dance, but for hip hop or maybe bar work, perhaps Tap, Ballroom, that they would work pretty well. Maybe even house because they have a little bit of give. Um, yeah but I wouldn't, I would check out modular floor, and feel it with your feet before I would invest in that. Number three. For most of my personal spaces I have used simple laminate floor. I picked up a box of laminate floor in the as is section, at Ikea. It was under 20 bucks and it covered my whole little corner. You can pick up inexpensive laminate almost anywhere. Home Depot, Ikea, lumber liquidators.
The first time I worked with laminate, I just slapped it on the floor. I didn't even realize it needed to be like clicked together or put together. It was, it kind of got lame after a while. Then the second time I followed a quick YouTube tutorial that helped me understand that the planes were designed to lay together a certain way and I use'd a little bit of glue in the grooves and it held out really well. And lastly, let's talk about Marley. What the heck is Marley? Marley is actually a brand that we've come to universally use in place of the word vinyl flooring. So similar to the way we use the word Q-tip instead of cotton swab or Kleenex instead of tissue. Marley is a vinyl floor. That's it. And dare I say, quite overpriced. Years ago I stumbled on a thread, on a studio owners website, that was hundreds of pages long and it was just a bunch of studio owners exploring flooring options.
Eventually the entire conversation became about how many of them had decided to go to Lowe's and purchase, shower pan aligning, because you know what shower pan lining is? Sheets of vinyl. Yep. Marley. So I did this myself here at home. It works really well. I purchased a large sheet of plywood and then I cut a sheet of vinyl to lay over the plywood and used a heavy double sided tape. You have to work the seams out a bit to get them to line up against each other. And I will warn you that it needs to de-gas. So it's a little bit smelly at first, just leave it alone for a few days. And then from there you work with various ways to make it grippier or more slippery if you want to use Roseanne or however you wanna break in your material. But those are four ways that you can get floor going for yourself.
Sound; sound is the easiest because even for my largest room at the studio, which is 1700 square feet. I've never spent more than a hundred to 200 on sound. I purchased a simple large speaker on a stand with a simple aux input and I still love it. Unless the room is huge; your sound system should be your least expensive item. You just need a good loud speaker, nothing fancy. And you may already have one. You may have a Bluetooth speaker that works well, but let me just give you a couple of tips that I've learned. Having speakers sit on the floor, causes sound issues and can even cause it to short out. So you want yours on a stand or on a shelf or someplace, off the floor, mounted to a wall. However you want to do it. Speaker's also respond really poorly to heat. So if it's a really hot room with no AC, you may run into issues. This happened in my first commercial studio. It was a building that was 120 or 130 years old. We were upstairs with no air conditioning in the So Cal heat and it got to where the speaker would cut out every couple minutes, which gets so embarrassing when you're teaching.
Lastly, let's talk about extras and we'll start with bars. If you need a bar for any sort of work, you can find them through online retailers like Elvas, that's who I use for the bars at the studio or on Craigslist. I have purchased three or four bars from Craiglist. They've all been really expensive in perfect condition, at just need to have a bit of patience. When you're putting a bar in your space, you need to think about logistics. Mounting a bar against a mirror is extremely costly. So you can either find a corner and put your mirrors on one wall and bar on the other or just go with a freestanding bar. So let me give you options from free to priciest. The free option is obviously grab a chair, and I'm serious about this. Bars are there for light guidance , so if you're doing traditional ballet bar. It's not there for you to put all your weight on. So if you're working with classic bar work, a chair will do just fine. Or, next you can build a bar. And this is what I did on my own. Super cheap. I purchased PVC pipes and various connectors. Just make a little sketch of how you want your bar to connect. You can also find a tutorial on YouTube. Lots of people have done this. It's pretty flippin easy. I purchased the pipes, that connectors, some PVC glue and some silver spray paint. We connected all the parts and then I spray painted the whole thing to make it look like a Chrome finish. It was probably like 20 bucks for the whole bar. And then the most expensive option is to just purchase a free-standing bar. I would always go Craigslist. You can get it for about 90 bucks.
I literally just Googled right before recording this, and I found one for 90 versus one at Elvas, which is $400 for one freestanding bar. But that last part of extras is miscellaneous stuff. I'm a huge believer in tools, especially for fascia relief or to assist in stretching. So here at my house I have a little cubby and it has a yoga block, a peanut, a foam roller, TheraBands, fascia release balls, lacrosse balls, a tennis ball, and a thera cane. I do have a problem. I collect a lot of tools, but I also have chronic knots in my back that get really terrible after class and I have the world's stiffest upper back in the world. So having tools to work through knots on the days when my body is not cooperating is a lovely thing. All of the tools are pretty inexpensive. On Amazon, you don't need a lot of stuff.
In all honesty. You could have a one tennis ball and it can probably serve almost all your purposes. I will say that my next nerdy purchase, I'm waiting for it to come in. The mail is a multi loop yoga strap, so it's a long yoga strap and instead of a loop at the end it has loops all down and that means when you're stretching you can find any degree of flexibility to work with, which I love because oftentimes the yoga straps, I can't get; I'm more flexible than they'll allow me to open up to, in some cases. I mean, I am. I'm not bragging. There's some things I can't do at all. Anyways, that's your extras.. Make your space some place that you want to be, a sanctuary that you can't wait to get to. Whether you need to paint the wall red or you need vibrant patterns or you need a coffee machine nearby or pictures of the beach, whatever it is, treat this space with care. Training is a beautiful thing and you want a space that beckons to you every day so it doesn't go to waste.
Dancers Call-to-Action is a proud product of Unify Dance Network (UDN). If you found these words helpful, please leave me a happy review. That's the best thank you I can get. You can find me online at www.aprilmaclean.com or Instagram at mizmaclean. See you next time, Dancers.