In the beginning, there was marley. Not exactly. Battleship linoleum and hardwood had been around for a long time, but marley was the first floor designed for dance. It was lightweight, reversible, flexible and portable. Linoleum was heavy, hard to move and rigid — plus, it cracked in cold weather and was difficult to install unless warmed.
Wood stages were the reason marley was invented back in 1968, which initiated the modern era of dance floor history. The wood varied in texture and slip-resistance from theater to theater. Dancers were at the mercy of unknown stage conditions, and no amount of rosin or water could help.
Marley Moves From Stage to Studio
While today the industry uses “marley” as a generic term for vinyl dance flooring, the material was originally manufactured by The Marley Company in England, which dubbed it the “Stageflor.” It consisted of two thin layers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), color resins and plasticizers for flexibility. The two layers were laminated, or fused together using heat and pressure. It was lightweight, non-slip, reversible, matte-finished and inexpensive.
Its design meant professional dancers could easily travel with it and roll it out onto any stage on their tour. Any wood stage could quickly transform into a surface fit for a dancer. It was the ideal stage floor for contemporary dance and ballet.
There was only one problem. Dancers were rehearsing on their traditional wood floors at the studio and performing on the marley onstage. They wanted to rehearse and perform on the same surface — so marley soon moved into the studio. Once in the studio, the professional schools affiliated with the companies also wanted marley floors. This is how marley became the de facto floor for professional dance.
A Dance Floor for Every Dancer
The idea that traditional marley could be all things for all styles of dance did not work out.
Tap dancers with their percussive metal taps could damage the floor and the sound was a bit muffled. Jazz dancers wanted a faster floor, and some of the ballet crowd wanted a more absorbent floor surface.
Need generates invention, and after the original marley came the solid, harder and thicker all-purpose Timestep™ marley floor. Stagestep™ invented Timestep™ flooring to produce better sounds for tap dancers and a faster surface for tap and jazz dancers. Today, the Timestep™ is a go-to for tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, modern, character, flamenco and ballroom dancers.
Stagestep™ later invented the modestly foam-backed Quietstep™ for ballet and the cushioned-back Dancestep Plus™. Dancestep™ is designed to roll out over concrete and provide a performance surface for all dance forms except tap, since it is made for sound reduction.
What Dance Floors Does Stagestep™ Use Today?
Since marley first came on the market, The Marley Company changed hands several times until the company name disappeared, and they stopped manufacturing the floor in 1979. That’s right — it has been more than 40 years since The Marley Company stopped making Stageflor. Since then, the reversible floor has undergone some improvements. It has a fiberglass filament between the lamination, making the floor more stable and resulting in a better lie-flat.
A half-dozen years ago, Stagestep™ introduced Super Timestep™. It offers a fiberglass filament and an energy transfer bottom layer. Impact denting, which could happen on just about any floor, vinyl or wood, became virtually a thing of the past. The design transfers energy to the bottom of the floor, leaving a smooth, clean top surface as the dents move to the unseen bottom.
More recently, Stagestep™ introduced Super Bravo Pro™. It is 33% thicker and can handle tap much better than the original. It’s a multipurpose portable floor that provides good sound quality for tap while delivering a durable performance surface for all dance styles.
Work With Stagestep™ to Find Innovative Dance Floor Solutions for the Modern-Day
Recent dance floor history has revealed a shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach to marley flooring. From the simple, yet effective original 6-foot-wide marley floor to the high-tech Super Timestep™, dance floors have evolved to meet the needs of all forms of dance, from ballroom to ballet.
When choosing a floor for your dance studio or tour, it’s crucial to work with a flooring company that understands the distinct needs of different dance styles. Stagestep™ designs dance floors to meet many budgets and sound absorbency levels, with an array of both non-slip and fast surfaces. For information on all dance floors, request a quote today!