Perhaps this post has never been more apt, but lockdown or no lockdown, taking a look at the best dance mats for home practise is probably one of the best ways you can invest in yourself as a dancer. Not being limited by flooring when you’re outside the studio can be invaluable, so if you’re serious about utilising practise, this can be a game changer!
What Is A Dance Practise Mat?
What Are The Benefits?
Doing ballet at home on a carpeted floor garners mixed and frustrating results. Yes, it’s still possible but if you’re out of the studio a lot or practising regularly at home, you want to make sure it doesn’t affect technique. For example, it’s very difficult to get the level of contact with the floor to really work your feet and focus on strengthening them. This is essential for creating beautiful capable feet and making sure practise time doesn’t go wasted.
Another benefit of perusing dance mats for home use is that it will protect your shoes! Of course, you can practise in socks, but if you want to practise in your shoes, nothing eats away at them like carpet.
From a tap perspective, having a dance mat at home is a no brainer. This is because, sure, you can practise on a lino floor but not without marking it up badly (trust me, my kitchen floor growing up did not thank me for it) and practising on carpet will help you with getting the beats in, but it can’t help you gauge the clarity and articulation of the sound- (it’s kind of like practising on a muted piano.) You can put the mechanics in place, but you can’t gauge the quality of the sound or what the notes sound like.
It’s also nice to have a portable floor that you can use in any room. It’s easy to move and you can take it anywhere!
It’s also ideal for turn practise- large enough that you can take your turn from whichever position you choose whilst also giving you the incentive to stay on the spot whilst practising fouetté turns.
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s good to take with you as part of your pre-performance warm up routine. Not all backstage areas are well-equipped for dancers- and we sometimes have to contend with carpet or even concrete. Having a dance mat up your sleeve can take the stress off, so no matter if you’re touring or unsure what backstage area you will have to deal with, you can go about your routine unhindered.
One of the key things as a dancer is confidence, and having slip free flooring is a big part of that. Personally I’ve been in situations where the floor has been slippery and I’ve never danced my best. You can’t lose yourself in dancing because you’re too busy trying not to slip. And you can’t make your movement as fluid, because it’s too stressful. So taking a look at the best dance mats for home practise means that you can execute every step of your home practise with glorious confidence.
There may also be occasions where you want to get a good dance shot outdoors, or anywhere the surface is less than ideal. Voila, a practise mat gets you your ideal shot without discomfort so all you have to think about is posing with grace and ease (well, maybe more effort than ease, but you catch my drift!)
How Much Can I Expect To Spend (I want to be kind to my purse strings!)
Like with everything, you get what you pay for. But the good news is there should be something for everyone. The best dance mats for home practise range from anything between £20 at the low end to around £150 but don’t panic! My personal favourite tends to be harlequin which is around £60, and actually a steal given how good the quality is. Harlequin tends to come in 2 sizes: 1mx1m (a square) or 2mx1m (a rectangle.) But the beauty is there’s also different options according to your needs.
Harlequin- For All Your Needs
The Harlequin Practise Mat allows dancers to practise on Harlequin Cascade; the floor of choice for many dancers and dance companies (including the Royal Ballet, Riverdance and Royal Academy of Dance.) Perfect for all your ballet and contemporary needs, it also comes with a nifty travel bag and can be laid down on any stable flooring.
Harlequin Tap And Turn Board is ideal for the tappers out there. Percussive dancers have slightly different requirements. Varnished one side, and covered with Harelquin Reversible Performance Vinyl on the other, this board is versatile and will help give you a choice in how best you want to practise. For tappers, flooring is essential as it’s not just about the shapes you’re making, but being an instrumentalist and making music. It also has a handle for easy transportation and is a great way to protect your flooring at home (no nasty marks.)
If Harlequin seems a bit pricey, do not panic. By checking out some lesser known brands, you can find several cost effective alternatives for flooring. Some even cater to a much bigger floor space ratio. You also have the bonus that you’re not paying for the brand name. So know that if you need to be a little thrifty when considering the best dance mats for home practise, that there’s still going to be options out there for you.
Although a dance practise mat can be seen as a little on the pricey side (if you go for quality,) I like to think of it as an investment in yourself. Whatever you decide, I hope that this article on the best dance mats for home practise has given you everything you need to make your decision. As always, if you have any questions, drop me a comment, and I will get back to you asap 🙂