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No marley? No problem! How Cincinnati Ballet brought the studio to its dancers

April 21, 2020

Pointe shoes and carpet? Not a good match. Hard wood? Also, not meant for ballet dancers. In the brave new world of social distancing, the daily routine of Company class in the studio with floors made of marley is off limits. Dancers have been forced to find space in their homes – living room, kitchens, even garages – to continue to train and hone their craft. Unfortunately, the flooring most of us have in our homes is not conducive with proper dance training, especially for professional dancers. Cincinnati Ballet decided to help fix that problem for our Main Company artists. Our production team keeps previously used sections of dance floor in our warehouse. Cincinnati Ballet’s master carpenter Scott Berkley spent a weekend cutting the flooring into pieces dancers could use in their homes. The floor – commonly known as marley – is non-slip surface perfect for dancers. Why is it called marley? And what is it exactly? Well, original dance floor surface was heavier gauges of linoleum are known as “battleship linoleum.” It was originally manufactured to meet the specifications of the U.S. Navy for warship deck covering on enclosed decks instead of wood, hence the name. Battleship linoleum did not roll up and it was hard to store. Marley Floors, a British manufacturer, created the first double-sided, roll-up floors, but their production line closed in 1977. Marley is a brand name like Kleenex, Q-tip, or Coke. Marley’s export sales manager, Bob Dagger, decided to set up Harlequin Floors and began production of the same floor, which he called Harlequin Reversible. While the Marley Company continues to make vinyl roofing materials but left the dance floor business, many people still ask for a ‘Marley floor’ instead of a vinyl floor. Cincinnati Ballet exclusively uses Harlequin Floors. So, that’s why we call it marley!

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