Impressive Dance Floors by Bolo Productions: An Interview With David Sukonick

November 19, 2012

People often dance in the most unexpected places—and we’ve all done it! Whether it happens down the aisle of the grocery store, in the hallway at the office, or even while waiting on the bus stop—when the mood is right—there is nothing to prevent us from busting out with some inspired dance moves!

Dancing at 4th & Broadway
Source, Website:

There are situations, however, where the floor that is available actually matters. In fact, for most dancers—whether rehearsing in a studio or performing on a stage—the type of floor that is available matters a great deal! Recently, I caught up with friend and Founder of Bolo Productions, David Sukonick, to find out just what it takes to make a suitable dance floor.

Before we get to that, however, and speaking of dancing at the office, there’s a great video of actor Christopher Walken dancing to Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice.  Here’s the link:

Christopher Walken in Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice


“So, David, what exactly is “Bolo Productions”?  What services do you provide and how did you come up with the name?”

 David Sukonick

“There are many meanings to the word “bolo”.  Its uses include the name for a thin leather necktie, a strong Russian dude, a police warning (i.e. to bon the look out), a long knife, a type of martial arts punch, or even a toy. My good friends, Peter Freedberg and Gia Firicano of Southwest Ballet, once presented me with a gift: an original version of the Game Boy. When I turned it on, the first thing it said was, “To David, You are such a Bolo”. From then on, everyone assumed it was my nickname and it just stuck. A few years later, when I started Bolo Productions, it just seemed like the perfect choice for a name.”

“My initial vision for the company was to create an umbrella for various dance-related specialties. This included a ballet company called the Well-Tempered Ballet, a professional videography service for live dance performances, the construction of dance floors and the design of dance studios. Unfortunately, the dance company no longer exists. I am proud that we developed several great signature works for the Well-Tempered Ballet (some of which will be transferred to other groups or performed independently), and that I was able to enlist many fantastic dancers, but after founding the company, I soon recognized that directing was not my true calling. Furthermore, I really do not possess the tremendous thirst to create that a choreographer must have.”

David Sukonick, Founder of Bolo Productions

“Among the services that we continue to provide, however, archival videography is something that I really enjoy. In the videos that we produce, we place an emphasis on capturing choreography in such a way that the entertainment value is maintained and the choreography is clear enough to so that it can be recreated. Experience has taught me that, when done correctly, a shoot with a single camera is superior and provides a more natural result than those done with any number of multiple cameras. This single camera method, in my belief, comes closest to preserving the choreographer’s original intent. I should point out that the videography branch of my company will continue to be recognized as Bolo Productions, while I am gradually transferring the floor construction and design service to”

“The dance floors are actually what we are most closely identified with. The sprung sub-floor is one of our specialties along with a choice of the dance surface (e.g. marley, hardwood, etc.). Additional offerings include the installation of wall barres, mirrors, stereo systems, ramps (to meet ADA standards), door openings, windows (wall, skylight, and viewing windows), lights, and general acoustics.  We also offer consultation services for any of the above and for other factors needed for optimal usage of a studio, but which are often overlooked. These additional factors include proper heat, airflow, and ventilation.”


“Dancers are often astonishingly adaptable and resourceful dancers when it comes to making a career transition. How did you get into the business, particularly, of building dance floors?”

David Sukonick

“I was working as a guest artist for the National Ballet of Maryland around 1991 or 1992.  The company had previously been dancing on a rock solid floor comprised of hardwood laid directly over cement, and was in process of moving to a new location at the local YMCA.  When I checked out this new dance space, the first thing that I noticed was that the new floor was also made of solid concrete.  Feeling bold, I told the director that what she really needed was a sprung floor. I told her that this was easy to create and that it was only a matter of crossing a few boards over one another and then raising the entire construct onto a layer of rubber.”

“The next day I was out in the house of the theatre with my feet on the back of the chair in front of me while waiting for my solo section.  The director glares at me and exclaims, “What are you doing, David?”  Before I could even respond she says, ‘Where is your paper and pencil?  You are supposed to be working on the floor that you are going to build for us tomorrow.  You said it was easy.'”

“Needless to say, I had no idea what to do since I had never actually built anything like this before.  Although I had a general understanding of the requirements of a dance floor, my only real construction experience was in basic woodshop class in high school! Nevertheless I started “designing” and created a material list for building a dance floor. The next day was crazy. By a stroke of luck, I found a source of some rubber sheets and the company members and I spent hours cutting it into squares.  We picked up some power tools and all of the lumber at the local Home Depot.  Keep in mind that I had never done any actual construction before.  I didn’t even know how to draw a straight line on the plywood or how to use a sawhorse.”

“By some miracle the floor worked and held together.  We installed the old marley over the surface and gave it a shot.  Although the new floor was a bit on the soft side, the director was ecstatic because we were no longer dancing on cement. This original floor that we managed to build that day was later moved after having been used for at least 15 years, and may still be in use at the National Ballet of Maryland’s new space.”

“Today, I continue to use the same general concept for my floors, but they are a far cry from that original design.  Over the years, the product has steadily evolved to incorporate the latest innovations in building materials as well as state of the art design.”


“Your business has taken you all over the world where you’ve built dance floors for many well-known clients such as Fatima Robinson and for the Patrick Swayze memorial a few years back.  Do you have any particular memories you’d like relate regarding of any of your past projects?”

David Sukonick

“To date, I have built more than 200 elaborate dance floors ranging in size from very small spaces up to 5,000 square feet. On my website, I have a list of many of the clients that I have been fortunate to work with, and I now realize that the site is sorely out of date! Fatima Robinson was indeed one of my clients. I built a private studio inside her garage at her home near Griffith Park in Los Angeles, CA. The privacy and convenience of the studio allowed her to rehearse with her many well-known musical clients whenever their schedules allowed and without having to worry about press cameras flashing or the eyes of curious onlookers. Fatima requested to have the front of her garage studio open with French doors rather than your standard swinging garage door. Needless to say, her neighbor objected to the building of a studio and an inspector mysteriously appeared. The complaint filed was that the space was no longer a usable garage. With some quick thinking, we set up a few portable ramps out front, which allowed her to drive her convertible right onto the garage floor. The inspector said, “Looks like a garage to me”, and that was the end of that story.”

“The Patrick Swayze floor was built for his memorial on a lot at Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA. There were all manner of celebrities and superb dancers in attendance, and the guest dancers included Desmond Richardson and the Lines Ballet of San Francisco. Our company had to install the entire quadruple-sprung floor, along with the marley, in only a few hours. The work appears in a time-lapse video on YouTube.”

Patrick Swayze

“One of my early floors was made for Tim Burton’s Hollywood office, and the earliest home studio I built was for the choreographer, Toni Basil. Some of the other dance luminaries I’ve been honored to work with on their floor or studio projects include Marat Daukayev, Gregory Hines, Stanley Holden, Charles Maple, and Dmitry Kulev.  We built five gorgeous studios (with no posts!) for Gelsey Kirkland and her husband Michael Chernov in New York City.  For the Lee Strasberg Acting Institute, we created studios in New York and Los Angeles. Their LA studio was a particular challenge because, with the presence of the Marilyn Monroe Theatre right below, the Strasberg Actors’ studio had to be made virtually soundproof.”

“In 2007, we had the incredible challenge of building 10,000 square feet of studio space, totaling five studios in all, in just two days for the Regional Dance America Convention in Pittsburgh, PA.  We were official sponsors for the event so we donated all of the labor.  In addition to the locations that I’ve already mentioned, you can also find our floor and studio designs in Colorado, Ohio, throughout California, Canada and Sweden. I even have a client waiting to get the proper space to construct a dance floor in Israel.”


“Without giving any of your trade secrets away, how does a dance studio or stage differ from, say, a gymnasium floor or regular household floor?”

David Sukonick

“Gym floors are made to withstand maximum heavy-duty usage, but have a minimal amount of spring. Furthermore, a gym floor is generally very slippery because of the polyurethane finish. The result is a floor that works just fine if you’re wearing high-tech, basketball type shoes, but is hardly suitable for most types of dance. Professional dance floors must contain a much greater amount of spring than what you’d find in a regular floor or even at a gym. The shock of the dancer jumping must be spread out over a large area to make up for the lack of athletic footwear.  At the same time, however, the floor must not be so soft as to rebound like a springboard or a gymnastics floor. Instead, it must accurately compress in accordance with the dancer’s weight against it, and always return smoothly to its original position.”

“In addition to the level of spring in the floor, the surface (e.g. marley, hardwood, etc.) is also extremely important. The qualities of the floor surface that we are concerned with for dance include the amount of slip resistance, its flexibility, durability and density to withstand tap dancing or, say, having a piano rolled over it. The floor has to be “alive” and able to breathe with the dancers. It is their major tool for both training and performing and, because of all of these variables, great care must be taken in the construction of a dance floor. How else can dancers push their physical limits without fear of injury?”


“For a given project, do you typically work alone or as part of a team?  How long, on average, does a project take from beginning to end?”

David Sukonick

“First of all the biggest difference between what I do and most other dance floor contractors is that, after designing the layout and ordering the materials, once the construction begins, I am at the site from beginning to end.  I do the actual building, not just supervision.”

“In addition to myself, I use a trained crew of one to two people, and on rare occasions, three.  Any more and they just get in the way and increase the risk of errors.  I prefer to use workers who are also dancers because this type of work also requires great stamina and agility.  Because of the huge amount of lifting and time spent in a bent-over position, it is ends up being very tiring and painful towards the end of the day.  Our hands cramp, we get headaches, and the backs of our legs become very stiff and sore.”

“As for how long a project takes, it naturally will depend upon on the size and nature of that particular job. In general, however, we take great pride in our ability to work quickly and efficiently. Instead of taking weeks (as is often the case) to assemble the sub-floor and marley, we often finish a comparable project in just a matter of days. Logistical and design issues commonly arise, but there are two particular types of situations that can greatly slow our progress.  One situation involves having to work in a space where the materials we will use must also be stored. In this case, we expend a great deal of energy by having to continually pick up supplies to them out of our way. Another challenge often comes with having to work alongside other construction workers who may be a bit careless. Drips of paint, dents from ladders, or even the smallest piece of wire can easily look like mountains under the dance floor surface if not caught and can create many hours of extra work.”

“In terms of specific numbers, we can usually have a large studio of 2,000 square feet ready to go in three days. The dance barre installation takes a couple days, and mirrors are usually installed in one or two days.  For barres, I always recommend my colleague, Chuck Johnston, of

Chuck Johnston of Ballet Barres West

Chuck is a former ballet dancer and, when it comes to his design and installation of dance barres, I think he is the best there is. Although independent, I consider him to be an extended part of my crew. Another part of my team includes an entire family of flooring experts.  That includes Cornelio Ramirez and his sons, who are true masters of hardwood floors.”


“So, with all of the upcoming projects for Bolo Productions, do you still have time to dance?”

David Sukonick

“This is actually a tough question and the short answer is both yes and no.  Granted I am dancing so, yes.  (Presently I am a member of the contemporary dance company Intersect Dance Theatre in Riverside, CA and will be performing the Nutcracker Grand Pas as a guest artist in Sacramento, CA this December.) On the other hand, because it takes a huge amount of time and dedication to do the proper job and to look one’s best, I’d have to say, no.  Finding time to do what I’d need to do to seriously get into shape (taking class, working out at the gym, etc.) is in itself a science.  The very long drives to class and squeezing in the necessary gym work after midnight is both mentally and physically grueling.”

“Although I am no longer a full time dancer, it still feels like I put out close to the same effort. In many ways it takes more physical management since I am a few years older (OK, a lot older) than most performing dancers.  I have to be very cautious of injury and stop immediately when something does not feel right.  Unfortunately, I have to be much more aware of my diet and how it affects the entire body.  Gone are the days of getting by on a cup of noodles, chicken wings for happy hour, or drinking half the night and still making it to class in the morning.  I can’t live on Popeye’s Chicken any more! Besides, the dance floor design and construction business and videography are incredibly time consuming and can be all encompassing on their own.”


“Thank you, David for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.  Before you get away, we’d like to show an example of our work. Here it is.”

Bolo Productions

Can also E-mail:
Phone: (323) 356-4439
Address:  Bolo Productions,  1002 W. Ave. J-8,  Lancaster, CA 93534

Related Links:

Ballet Barres West

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