Robbins sashayed into the dance business in 2015 when they premiered a new sprung flooring product line engineered specifically for the performing arts market. Although Robbins was already a proven industry leader in sports flooring, with millions of square feet of flooring canvassing 65 nations on six continents, they were not by any means, newcomers to the dance market and had been designing stage and fitness flooring for decades. However, designing a specialty floor line just for dancers was unchartered territory for Robbins.
In true Robbins fashion, they didn’t delve into this specialty lightly, however. In fact, the research and development team at Robbins worked for years to learn what a performer needs in a floor versus what, say, an athlete on a basketball court needs. The experts at Robbins collaborated with top theater consultants and dancers to assess a performer’s needs, injury rates, how much vibration control is necessary, how hard or soft a floor should be, the various shoes dancers wear, and a multitude of other factors resulting in the most advanced professional, highest performing sprung dance floor systems in the field.
While Robbins may not be the biggest name in dance flooring – yet, their products are top notch and are often far superior to those of the top sellers, including Harlequin, according to Abby Mitchell, chief operating officer at Ponder Company, a Texas-based exclusive Robbins dealer. Mitchell said one of the biggest differences is that anyone can install a Harlequin floor. Not so with Robbins.
“A lot of times you can buy direct from Harlequin and they’ll just outsource the labor to put the floor in, so they really don’t have control over who’s putting stuff in,” Mitchell explained. “Robbins has a dealer network and they are very selective about who gets in, and everyone is trained on their floors.”
Mitchell said time and again she’s seen competitors’ floors installed improperly, with faulty materials or missing a moisture membrane entirely, resulting in a product akin to a cheap basketball court, spelling trouble for users of the floor. With Robbins expertly trained and vetted installers, Mitchell says customers know exactly what their getting.
And Mitchell knows dance flooring. Not only is indoor sports flooring her livelihood, it’s also her passion. As the mother of four girls, spending up to 20 hours a week each in the dance studio, Mitchell wants only the best for her daughters, and she expects nothing less for her clients. Proper engineering means less fatigue for dancers like her daughters. It also means dancers can perform longer and more safely, preventing injury.
“Making sure you have a good floor to protect that body is crucial because if you have a hard floor without the resiliency, the knees, the hips, all the joints are going to suffer,” Mitchell said.
When her daughters’ home studio, Legacy Dance Center in Frisco, Texas, was constructing a new 10,000 square-foot facility in 2015, Mitchell was instrumental in the installation of a Robbins Le Lena B vinyl sprung floor in their six studios. The triple layer resilient sprung subfloor dampens vibration and provides spring and comfort for almost any dance activity, which is crucial at Legacy, where dancers perform everything from tap to ballet to hip hop.
Scott Purcel, who along with his wife Pamela, owns Legacy, said vinyl allows for multipurpose use, as well as easy maintenance.
“We have productions and usage 355 days out of the year,” Purcel detailed. “The other ten days of the year we’re not in there we’re probably at a theater performing somewhere. We just want a floor that’s very reliable, that ‘s multi-use, and basically is safe for the dancers.”
Purcel said the Robbins floor has been a great fit for his dance center and he would definitely buy from Robbins and Ponder again.
“For me it’s really not about the marketing.” Purcel indicated. “You know a lot of these other companies have marketing and trucks and everything with their name on the side of them. That’s not us. We’re about safety for the dancers, and that dancers are able to dance on all types of floors.”
But Robbins has a multitude of floors to meet the needs of every facility. In the case of Texas Christian University, Ponder installed a Robbins Le Lena B wood sprung dance floor with a maple surface after flooding occurred on their previous floor.
“TCU’s Facility Services/Physical Plant selected Robbins and Ponder to replace our flooring after a significant flood damaged the original,” said Professor and Director of Classical and Contemporary Dance at TCU Elizabeth Gillaspy. “The new flooring was installed in October 2017 in a space that houses our Pilates conditioning equipment and serves as a warm-up/rehearsal space for our dancers. Abby, our representative from Robbins and Ponder, was terrific to work with; keeping us apprised every step of the way during installation.”