Bolo Productions

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Bolo Productions

The Ultimate in Dance Floors        Dance Videography

Dance Floor Properties


Along with a dancer's own body the floor is an important part of their instrument.  It has an effect on every single step.  It pays to take your time and choose this part of your studio with the utmost of care.  The floating floor is made for all around dance applications. It can be finely tuned for different dance forms.


Height of the floor is between 4" to 5". The non-profit rate cost for the floor is approximately $9.00 per square foot. This includes materials, design, and installation. Dance floor coverings start at $11 a square yard and go to $40.   There are a few other surfaces with higher prices.  Hardwood flooring of choice is also available.

The amount of spring, the smoothness, and rigidity of the top can all be customized to suit specific types of dancing. Unlike the minimal spring provided by most hardwood floors the floating floor is very "alive", providing a very generous amount of spring without variance no matter where you stand, yet avoids the trampoline effect of a gymnastics floor. The subfloor is a very precise basket weave resting on specially engineered pads. Spring comes from five different layers. The professional dance floor covering gives the longest lasting and finest surface for ballet, jazz, modern, or tap. Special formulations are available to clean, upkeep, and assure undiminished quality of the floor over years of use.  Our complete new supreme floor is made of eight levels and is completely insulated for extra sound absorption and vibration resistance.


In unusual circumstances where a great floor is needed but it must be very low can make an engineered foam floor.  Unlike all the other closed cell foam floors this one uses no screws at all.  The wood is the finest hardwood plywood either Baltic or Finnish from Europe.  There is no wood in the USA even approaching this quality. We make our own tongue and grooves and use aluminum for the tongues.  We cut and attach all the foam blocks ourselves to customize the spring.  The entire floor is held together around the outside perimeter.  The height is slightly less than two inches.  It is time consuming and very exacting to install this floor but it is fabulous for a floor of this height. We have also built the styles with the dual offset layers and the single level with seamed edges.

Advantages of a floating floor are many. The floor is independent of the building structure it does not touch the walls and simply rests on the concrete. It is constructed as a permanent item but if necessary, it may be constructed in a manner so as to be taken apart and moved to another location.  In any case of removal the room is left as it was originally. All injuries will by drastically reduced. Bad falls are absorbed over a large area and long term injuries such as those to joints sustained from years of dancing and teaching on hard surfaces are all but eliminated. Dancers with slight injuries can work through them on this floor and those with more severe injuries can rehabilitate much faster. The floor increases ability to teach and rehearse for longer periods of time without fatigue. The dance surfaces are low maintenance and in the event the Bravo B type of floor is chosen (original Marley) or the Lonstage MT, it can be rolled up and transferred to a stage with minimum effort.


Gym floors are made with a minimal spring but for a maximum of heavy-duty usage. The floors are slippery in general because of the required finish. These floors are not made with the intention of use with regards to dance instruction and performance. They are optimally to be in conjunction of participants wearing high tech basketball type shoes. On the other hand the footwear for dance is either slippers or very often barefoot. The requirements of a good dance floor are much higher.

Professional dance floors must contain a much greater amount of spring. Almost all forms of dance require some type of floor work. The shock of jumping must be spread out over a large area to make up for the lack of footwear. The surface is extremely important, as it must serve a multitude of functions. It must contain a fairly specific amount of slip resistance. It must be flexible and at the same time have the durability and density to withstand tap dancing or have a piano rolled over it without damage. The floor has to be alive and breathe with the dancers. It is their major tool for both training and performing. The floor must not be so soft as to rebound like a springboard or a gymnastics floor. I must accurately compress in accordance with the weight against and always return smoothly to its original position. Because of all of these variables, we take great care must be taken in the construction to avoid premature deterioration. Many or our refinements involve things that you don't see underneath the floor.  We reinforce the entire perimeter of the floor.  We attach every intersection of the grid with several industrial staples.  With much research we have also perfected placement of screws.  This is a most important item.  We have yet to have a screw that was properly put in back out. The surface plywood is attached by the absolute minimum amount of heavy screws.  Each screw goes through several inches of wood.  We use only 10 per piece of 4'x8' plywood or preferably high end oriented strand board (OSB).  This gives problem free stability.  Other often used designs use upwards of 128 screws in each piece of plywood.  Eventually this can and does cause problems in almost every instance.  They install them into shallow (thin) areas of wood.  These amounts of screws weaken the entire structure and many eventually back out.


Foam block floors by nature use many screws.  We have make them ourselves when the issue or height is extreme of the floor needs to be portable.  The difference is that we painstakingly engineer them out of and exotic hardwood plywood.  We route out the grooves on all sides by hand and insert aluminum tongues. There are no screws needed at all as opposed to using two thin pieces of ½" plywood and placing screws 6" apart.  Thee is also a major difference in the feel and the way foam block floors work.  The foam block works on the basis of compression as opposed to the floating floor, which uses the natural flexibility of wood. The foam floor uses 2" square cubes place placed anywhere from 4" to 6" apart glued to the entire bottom of the floor. A simple analogy to their different approaches may be may be made by using a spring as an example.  If the spring is compressed on the ends the amount of pressure needed to compress increases as you go down until you reach a point where it simple cannot be compressed anymore. The resistance increases rapidly with movement.  It quickly bottoms out. The larger dancer with a bigger jump will be at a disadvantage on this surface as he or she will bottom out much faster.  If you take the same spring and turn it sideways and bend it you are simulating the floating floor by using its natural spring.  The spring can bend all the way around in to a circle and beyond.  The resistance is continuous throughout the range.  The foam floor works but it is like having a brick wall at the end.  The floating floor is more like shooting an arrow through water. Eventually it will come to a halt with no damage to the arrow.  The other problem with foam is that it is still a relatively new idea and has not been tested over the long haul. The foam floor relies heavily on the principle of springing back fully for its “entire life”. It is not about the capacity to sustain weight but on how it cushions right from the start of contact. Eventually the pads compress to the point where the spring is greatly reduced to the point where it is actually once again hard.  This is inevitable due to climate and temperature, the force of gravity, and the huge beating it takes. No simple spring retains its original qualities forever.  Even with the NASA created viscoelastic “memory foam” used in mattresses there are often huge physical changes in a short period. Evidence can be viewed at any time over the internet with responses and feedback of customers. 


Note: we have recently noticed some foam floors of even nationally renowned companies that have compressed over time and show only minimal movement when jumped upon.


The flooring surface can be made permanent by double cutting and gluing down.  Double cutting is the process of overlapping the edges of the floor and running a knife between them. This makes for a very tight and exact fit.  Depending on the surface used, it is possible to go one step further with the use of heat welding.  Heat welding makes the floor seamless.  This is a process that melts the ends of the floor together.  This cannot be done with every surface and it does produce a ¼" visible seam down the length of the seams.  The permanent floor requires no tape and is easier to upkeep for that reason. It also has a nicer look. We have been very successful with taping the floor from underneath.  This is time consuming and exacting but is has its own benefits. It gives the look of a permanent and continuous floor yet it can be removed.  If for any reason there was damage to the surface or to the sub floor the flooring can be removed.  The flooring surface is very expensive and this allows for replacement if damaged or the luxury of transporting it to another location.  If the original surface did not prove to be satisfactory to your needs over a period of time it can be replaced with a different type.  Taping from underneath is not recommended for a "Marley" type floor.  It is relatively thin and easy to stretch out of shape.  It also has great expansion and contraction principles so it does not lend itself well to this procedure.  It is best used as a portable dance surface for which it is very economical and superb.  Taping the floor on top along the seams is what is done on stage. This allows you to use the covering for different purposes. If is of the Bravo (Marley) type it can be moved to a stage in a very short time and put back after the show.  It also allows you to move the whole studio to an entirely different location without having to purchase new materials.  It would be rare to find a dancer that would complain about this setup.  It has more to do with visual that practical use.  The tape is easily changes and it is suggested to do this three or four times a year before it gets shredded and becomes more difficult to remove.  The tape used is either of the cloth variety, which is better for ballet since it has more slip resistance.  For tap or sliding forms of dance where a faster surface is required the heavy vinyl tape is best.

Let me know if there are any more questions I can answer. I am very familiar with the feel and idiosyncrasies of the different dance floor coverings and they are best described over the phone where I can base it on your individual situation and recommend what I would deem as best.  Remember that along with a dancer's own body the floor is an important part of their instrument.  It has an effect on every single step.  It pays to take your time and choose this part of your studio with the utmost of care.


Note as of 2007:  There has been and extraordinary new building material created.  We are proud not only to be one of the first to use this incredibly long wearing wood composite but we are the exclusive dance floor builders to have used it.  This has been and incredible upgrade to our already sturdy and long lasting floors.  New studios with this product include Atlanta Dance Theatre (2,000 sq. ft.), Dimity Kulev Ballet (1,300 sq. ft.), Spectrum Dance (two studios total 3,300 sq. ft.), Stiletto Entertainment/Barry Manilow (2,000 sq. ft.), Dance Peninsula Ballet (1,600 sq. ft.), and Pomona College (4,000 sq. ft.).



Answers for dance floor clients number 1


Since there are very few decent floors it is hard to make a comparison.  Dancers that are constantly injured in the studio are a fact of life that isn't necessary. I don't think there are any surveys on injury rates but I draw from my lifetime of experience in dance.  You can also talk to any number of clients that I have.  The feedback that I get all the time is that injuries have essentially ceased on any floors that I have constructed.  They can be a thing of the past.  The only time a dancer should be under the risk of injury is when performing, due to the poor construction of stages.  Depending on budgets, this can now be addressed.  I can tell you about nearly every single type of injury that occurs in ballet and why it happened.  Much of it is to poor training, some to fatigue, and to diet.  A hard floor causes the vast majority of injuries.  These are also the ones that are long lasting or permanent.  This alone though should not be a reason, or penalty, for getting injured.  Even with the finest of training, modern style choreography demands more of the body in awkward situations.  I'm sure you would prefer to simply keep the dancers tuned up rather than wrapped up just so that they can limp through their performances. 


It is a bad misnomer of many directors that dancers should work on a hard floor because that is what they are going to get in the theatre.  This is absolutely crazy but a common practice.  I am not only a professional dancer but I am the number one videoographer of ballet companies in Los Angeles.  By the time it get towards the performance you can go back stage and see a gathering of the walking wounded most of the time.  I have danced with many of these groups and know why.


Hard floors only contribute to poor technique because the dancer will move in ways that will throw their body out of whack to avoid pain.  Fear of a repeated injury often creates lingering habits even after being cured.  You will save immeasurable by have a truly sprung studio floor. 


If you have the luxury of more than one studio one can even be made a bit softer.  This allows dancers that are tired, to keep on working.  Slightly injured ones can work through their injuries and also recuperate. 


A single workman's comp case can cost the amount of a brand new studio floor and covering.  It is better to avoid this in the first place.  Obviously it is not only costly but you lose the dancer and this causes hardships for everyone.


I'm sure we have made more studio than anyone since that is the only thing we build.  They are all customized for the type of dance most used and I have extensive knowledge of the characteristics of all dance surfaces (Rosco, Harlequin, Stagestep, Lonstage), including hardwood.



Answers for dance floor clients number 2


I am probably the best dance floor builder around.  You have a lot of questions there but I can answer all of them.  I have built dance floors for two flamenco instructors.  A sprung floor is particularly important for your type of percussive dancing. Flamenco or ballet on cement will permanently injure a dancer before they get out of their teens.  The cumulative damage from injuries become apparent later and make for a short career. 


The floors we make are extremely sturdy yet give a very generous amount of spring. They are very quiet yet will give a good tap sound.  One flamenco teacher actually damaged her hearing from years of the loud percussive sound of flamenco.  You want the sound to be crisp and audible, yet not sound like the whole room rumbles and vibrates with every single step. 


The sub floor ranges from just under 4" to just over 5" high.  I prefer the higher one for more stability since it has an extra layer of spring and an extra layer of plywood.  They are both superb.  The cost difference is inconsequential with regards to the material.  The cost is roughly $9.00 a sq. ft. depending on current lumber prices. You should judge what you need first by basic things like the height of your ceiling and if it prohibits a higher floor.  We use state of the art, engineered rubber pads on the bottom and then four layers of a basket weave.  Two layers of plywood or optionally hardwood make up the top.  Everything is very precisely put together.  You could run a car over this floor yet see it move when a dog walks over it. Keep in mind that you are really building the floor for yourself and other teachers who spend long days on it.  There are some crazies out there that prefer hard floors because they say they dance on hard stages.  This is the worst kind of logic.  There was a fabulous dancer that slipped on some tape on one of the floors I built and took one of the worst falls from a big jump that I have ever seen (I was right behind her).  She should have torn or snapped every ligament and tendon in her knee (she landed on the side of her knee directly).  Although shaken and gimpy after 40 minutes she was able to walk and drive home.  She ended up with a badly sprained knee.  She will be out for a while but this is far preferable to having an immediate end to a career.  The floor absorbed the vast amount of the impact.   Aside from this acute type of mishap I have rarely, if ever, heard about common injuries.  Shin splints are essentially nonexistent when dancing on this floor.  This definitely attracts more students and allows them to work harder.  There are only a couple of choices that I would suggest for a dance surface in your case.  It would either be the Timestep flooring or the Rosco Adagio.  It has to be a surface that will work for both ballet and for Flamenco.  The only other would be hardwood.  We made another spectacular studio in Sand Diego that has a "soft" oak hardwood floor.  It is Dancing Unlimited.  Dancing Unlimited is primarily a folk dance studio so they do lots of stomping.  Take your shoes in there and give it a try.  

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