With all the intense floor work that dance demands, you'd think that knee pads would be in everyone's dance bag, on the daily. But Ailey II's Meagan King can't be the only serious dancer who, disappointed with the performance of every brand of knee pads she's tried, simply made the choice to go without.
"It wasn't covering enough of my knee to give support," she says now, of her deep and long-running frustration with knee pads. "Or they were way too firm, or they'd shift around as I moved." Not to mention the unsightly bulk, and the lack of availability in shades other than just plain black or, sometimes, pale pink. No wonder King would sometimes opt out of padding up. Instead she'd wince, bracing herself for unprotected falls onto her hardworking knees.
If you can relate (and who among us dancers can't, TBH), you might want to sit down—because these are no ordinary knee pads.
For starters, a Pro-Dance knee pad from Bloch looks a little different from the knee pads you might've seen or tried before. Instead of a single foam panel covering the knee area, there are multi-shock padded panels that cover and surround the kneecap in a protective, 360-degree cocoon. "Dance isn't like sports, where you might drop straight down onto your knee to catch a pass," says Francina Hahn, Bloch product specialist. "We're rolling around on the floor, we're doing knee turns, we're doing all sorts of movement that's off-center."
So it stands to reason that your knee pads should protect not just your kneecaps, but also all of the joints and ligaments that work in support of the knees. And don't be fooled by how intense the grooved panels may look at first glance. The surprising design of these pads is actually engineered and tested to make them close to invisible under dance clothes—even close-fitting tights or leggings! (No, actually: Bloch took the time to be 100 percent sure that these are functional and non-distracting under leggings. Bless.)
Feel free to bare your well-protected knees in shorts, too. Pro-Dance knee pads come in basic black, sand and cocoa, so every dancer has access to a near-invisible, "nude" shade. Yes, friends: It took until 2021, but all dancers can finally keep the integrity of their leg lines—while also protecting their knees from bruising or more serious injury.
It's rare that using any given product for the very first time will magically or drastically improve your life. But for anyone whose dance life requires getting up close and personal with the floor—and that's everyone, yeah?—Bloch's Pro-Dance knee pads could mean the difference between: accidental knee injury/hesitant, tentative floor work OR committed, full-out movement/safe, sustainable dancing. Such a tough choice. *shrug emoji*
Meagan King in Bloch's Pro-Dance knee pads in shade cocoa.
King describes the Pro-Dance knee pads as nothing short of life-changing. (Full disclosure, she served as a product tester.) "In Graham technique, we do a lot of traveling falls, which became more intense as my training went on," she says. "After trying these out, I was actually able to do those and turns on my knee that hadn't been easy at all before." BTW, a big part of the pads' functionality is in how well they fit. King, who by her own admission has "very tiny, thin legs around my knee area," says the Pro-Dance pads fit sleekly and supportively all the way from quad to calf (they're constructed from lightly compressive, high-performance fabric.)
Beyond literally executing steps that were beyond reach beforehand, King says that finally being able to confidently rely on her knee pads has taken her relationship with the floor to the next level. As she explains: "If you don't have the proper support, you don't go full-out, right? And so you don't really understand how falls and drops are supposed to feel if you're holding back. Once I mentally felt free because I had the support, I saw my floor work starting to blossom."