CriticalDance Forum

Dance Studio Design
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Author:  Marc Haslam [ Tue Nov 28, 2000 2:22 am ]
Post subject:  Dance Studio Design

Can anyone suggest a good resource to investigate that deals with the design of appropriate spaces for dance. I am designing, as part of a university project, a contemporary dance studio in Camden, London.<BR>Any help will be greatfully received. Thank you.

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Nov 28, 2000 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

Welcome Marc - welcome to the board. Have you ever taken a dance class? One of the best ways to be knowledgeable about how a space is used is to be involved in its use, I would think. Sort of like someone designing my ******* who has never cooked.<P>Dance space - is pretty much that - space. The ideal dance studio (and Grace did supply you with a previous thread on this though much of that was in fun) should approximate a stage space. Many major companies design their studio space to exact proportions of their stage space. <P>There should be no impediments in the central area - no poles or other supports. This means a fairly large portion of an unsupported ceiling area. One wall should be given over to mirrors only - no barre to mar the uninterrupted expanse of the mirror. Along the walls (all three if so desired) should be lined with the barres. Preferably wooden barres. If the space is to be used for both children and adults there should be two sets of barres at two different heights. The barres are offset from the wall. I always enjoyed a studio that had windows - lots of windows.<P>The floor ideally is wood and is "sprung". Many studios occupy upper floors of a building to avoid a cement foundation. Dancers are ruined by hard floors. <P>There should be some sound dampening so that the piano or other musical source does not resonate in an uncomfortable manner. <P>There needs to be adequate space between floor and ceiling so that dancers can "partner" - the women do resent being knocked out by the ceiling when they are lifted!! So a high ceiling is mandatory. And all this space should be adequately heated for cold days. Dancers hate the cold.<P>So, I have probably told you nothing that you did not already know - LOL.

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Nov 28, 2000 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

In other parts of the studio there needs to be a comfortable lobby area - parents and friends often spend a great deal of time waiting for their children to finish up class. A reception area and an office area, also. <P> And, that most blessed space of all the dressing areas for the dancers -separate for male and female. A counter area in the dressing rooms with mirrors is helpful for brushing hair and putting makeup on. Lockers are often used to lock up personal clothing while the dancer is in class. Benches to sit upon while putting on clothes and shoes. Some studios have a curtained off space for individual dancers to change since sometimes adults and children will be in the same dressing area at the same time.<P>Depending on the size of the studio ideally there should be storage space for costumes and music equipment. <P>I personally never minded having people look in the windows - and sometimes it was even fun. We had a fire engine stop one day and the firemen had a wonderful time watching us dance. Then, they came in and said they wanted to do a fire inspection of the building......the teacher shooed them out. My tax dollars at work.....LOL<P>------------------<BR>Approach life as a dancer approaches the barre, with grace and purpose.

Author:  viv [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

Hello Marc,<BR>Indeed it isn't easy to find something on dance-spaces. (I'm sure this is one of the reasons why they give this as a task at your university)<BR>On the other hand it's just one of those 'dreamjobs' with an extra dimension !<P>I think Grace and Basheva have already covered a lot of elements to make a good case-study.<P>Years ago I had an order to design a dance-studio in a renovation project.<BR>(it's never been realised because Government retained suddenly all subsisdies !)<BR>I based my programme on the initial layout of a gymnasticroom because these have very parallel running elements.<BR>You can find this (as you probably know) in Neufert.(AJ has published something simular)<P>Have also a look in the library : AJ and perhaps AR must have handled 'dance spaces' in all those years.<P>Needless to say that it is important to create a good 'working machine' :<BR>*make a good 'traffic'-study.<BR> Between dance-classes the building will be <BR> overcrowded (coming and going, and so will <BR> be the parkingspace !)<BR> You need good dimensioned corridors<P>*maybe you can separate the 'streetshoe- <BR> area' from the 'dance-shoe' one.<BR> (although in an urban-context this is no <BR> priority)<P>*fresh air is important, so if possible let's<BR> open windows and avoid airco or mechanical <BR> ventilation (a lot of dancers get sick of <BR> it)<P>*provide the lobby area with video-projection<BR> (in my daughters previous danceschool this <BR> was the real centre of the studio !)<P>*provide a 'window-wall', and maybe you can <BR> use a one-way mirror between lobby and <BR> studio.<BR> Theachers love this because younger <BR> children's attention is not diverted.<BR> If you have no budget-limit : use double <BR> glazing with an internal gaz-curtain.<BR> (just push a button and you can't see <BR> through the window anymore)<P>*go and have a look during classes !<P>I wil have a look at my office, if I come across some publications I'll let you know.<BR>Goodluck !<P>

Author:  Basheva [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 1:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

Welcome Viv!! Nice to have you join us. You have lots of great information in your post. And, you are very right that dancers don't like - and many do get sick - from articifical air. I have danced in as high as 102 degrees of heat without getting sick -but I often get sick from air conditioning.<P>Another nice feature would be a lounge area for the dancers separate from the lobby area for visitors. <P>Interestingly enough, new studios being built here in the United STates have to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means wheelchair access to all areas. While I am certainly in favor of this, it does present difficulties. One studio I know of had to create a ramp into the studio space itself (which would never be used by anyone in a wheelchair) but according to the zoning regulations had to be built. The dancers ALL tripped over it at one time or another as it extended literally into the center of the dance space. Finally a solution was reached by making the ramp removable - but then storage space had to be found for it.<P>So another thing to check, Marc, are the zoning regulations. These extend to landscaping and parking spaces - as well as height allowances of buildings and coloration. There is a community here just north of San Diego in which there is a height limitation - and all roofs have to be red tile. <P>This is getting complicated isn't it?

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Nov 30, 2000 6:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

In California it is no longer permissable to smoke in any public gathering place. That includes stadiums, any restaurant or bar, any kind of school or class, public building or private. Also on any kind of transportation - trains, planes, buses, trolleys. <P>I had a ballet teacher I dearly loved except he smoked like a chimney and it used to make me very ill.<P>So, I love this relatively new law.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited November 30, 2000).]

Author:  Marc Haslam [ Wed Dec 06, 2000 12:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

Thank you to everyone that has contributed to this thread, it has been very useful. I would like to know a little about the preferred size and shape for dance spaces and ancilliary spaces, does the studio have to be rectangular, what would you think of dancing in an irregularly shaped space?<BR>Cheers, Marc

Author:  salzberg [ Wed Dec 06, 2000 4:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

Remember to leave room for the piano!

Author:  Basheva [ Wed Dec 06, 2000 6:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

The studio, in my opinion, should be the size and shape of the stage - or of an average theater stage, which is a rectangle. That gives a space that is wider than it is deep. This gives the dancer longer diagonals. It also allows more room for the corps de ballet which is sometimes as many as 24 people which is often six across and four deep. It also allows for action in the center of the space - with lots of room for "crowds" along the sides of the space. <P>As a dancer I always preferred access to the studio space without having to traverse through the public lobby. So, that I could go directly from the dressing room area (which should of course have the bathrooms) without having to walk through the crowds in the main lobby area. <P>In a perfect studio not only would there be a lounge area for the dancers - but also a separate one for the teachers. That way the teacher trying to rest and recoup for a few minutes between classes would not have to share lounge space with 25 giggling little girls and boys.<P>And while we are constructing this perfect studio - let's have a refrigerator in the lounge area - for storing lunches and cold drinks. <P>And if you really want perfection, a room for massages - a spa - showers.....oh dream on, dream on.......

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

"The practice mirror is to be used for the correction of faults, not for a love affair, and the figure you watch should not become your dearest friend."<P>-- Agnes DeMille<P>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<BR>This Day in Arts History: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A><BR>Online portfolio: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <BR>"Compliments to Jeffrey E. Salzberg's subtle lighting effects. . . ."<P><BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Dec 10, 2000 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

I had another post here - that I think got lost in the board crash -<P>In Europe and perhaps elsewhere the stages are raked at an angle. Many major studios also rake their floors at the precise angle as the performing stage. <P>I think that the studio designer should take this into consideration.<P>

Author:  Daedalus [ Thu Dec 21, 2000 3:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

I wanted to respond to Mark's inquiry about irregular spaces. I am not a professional dancer, but in the dance classes I took we often oriented ourselves on the front, back, sides, or diagonal of a room. If you have a room with non-othagonal walls, this orientation is difficult. It is possible to orient using your body as reference, but not easy for beginners (or children). What do you dancers think?<P>My favorite dance studio was in a space like the nave of a church. No columns, high vaulted spaces with lots of natural light. Another practice space I liked had a wall of tall windows starting at waist height with the barre underneath. It was nice to do barre work while facing the treetops and fresh air.<P>Not knowing much about your program, it is difficult to give advice. For example, you might have more need for larger dressing areas and makeup mirrors in a performance-oriented space. Or a dance school? My recollection is that many practice spaces have no changing areas at all. It didn't seem to be much of an issue, but less than ideal.

Author:  Basheva [ Thu Dec 21, 2000 5:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance Studio Design

When I was teaching at San Diego State University, we had to use the huge gym for ballet class. This was a really huge space and a terrible space to teach and/or dance.<P>There were literally no walls to orient to. It was impossible to dance on the diagonal.

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