CriticalDance Forum

companies charging dancers: what do you think?
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Author:  ari [ Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  companies charging dancers: what do you think?

hi, critical dance! i don't post much but i lurk often.

what do you think about the practice of choreographers/companies charging dancers a part of the space fees? i am talking professional, small companies that ask their dancers to front part of the studio rental fees/company classes/et cetera.

obviously, we're not talking huge budget companies here -- we're talking small start-up labor of love companies, where dancers get paid an honorarium rather than a real wage and, also, most of the dancers are not primarily dancers but would identify as people who dance on the side or in addition to their primary work.

as i continue to make my way around the arts/performance scene, i have run into a few -- not many, but some -- people who do this. as i continue to choreograph and rehearse performances, conversely, i am absolutely understanding of the need -- space is ridiculously expensive, especially in nyc, and i have been tempted. a company i work with occasionally has just started doing this and i am having a very mixed reaction -- ergo, hello! i am interested in what you think.

so nu? what do you think?

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

I do not condone this practice. I f a choreographer wants to create and show work then I think they should be responsible for the bulk of the expense including but not limited to all rehearsal space, performance venue, and technical costs. If the company is specifically set up as a co-op, I might see this "cost sharing" as acceptable, otherwise, NO WAY.

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

There's an Actors Equity classification called "SPT" ("Small Professional Theatre", if you must know*). It has ten tiers, and I've often joked that Tier 1 is where the actors pay the theatre.

This is depressingly close to that.

* You must.

Author:  osiris661 [ Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

I guess the decision is ultimately up to the people who take part or don't take part in this kind of action. I for one would not have a problem with something like that with the exception that any and all money derived from the ticket sales was used to pay back the dancers/employees who gave their hard-earned money to foot the bill for the rehearsals. I have dealt with a few contracts over the years where dancers took WAY LOW salaries in exchange for a percentage of ticket revenues and most of the time it works out to be undustry standard for their per performance salaries. "Cooperative Producing" is what I like to call it.

However, I am sure that not every organization out there actually gives the money back, rather, uses it for future productions.

This is danerous territory to get into without everything spelled out clearly in a contractually binding agreement.

"SPT" - Oooooh the memories, now I am laughing :lol: :lol:
I remember when I lived in NYC (a hundred years ago) and AEA had this ridiculous thing/process called "AEA Eligibility", which basically meant you could attend calls that were for AEA union members without being in the union but you had to wait until the full AEA members were finished first and then you could audition, sometimes this would take hours, or even days to get seen depending on the production and which call you wanted to attend, i.e.Principal, Chorus, etc. "Priority Eligibility Status" was what they called it if my memory serves correctly and I think I still have one of those old cards in my desk somewhere. It was difficult to get as you had to prove earnings in a stage production for a certain period of time at a certain salary level which is tough to do if you are fist starting out, or, working as a ballet dancer. Now the kicker, and where the "Small Professional Theatre" contract comes into play is that at the time when I lived in NYC the minimum salary level you had to to prove to obtain Eligibility Status for like 6 or 8 weeks in a year was around 380.00 a week. The AEA SPT contract which is very much a "Union" contract for "Union Members Only!"paid something like $200.00 per week before taxes :shock: :shock: . I used to argue this point with the AEA monitor's just to pass time while waiting for auditions. "How can you have a union contract that falls beneath the minimum standards of your own requirements for simple eligibility membership?" I used to ask them :? . I never heard a good answer to that question but it never stopped me from asking it :D :D :D Can you guess why I never got those jobs :D :D :D LMAO now.

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ah, yes. The Catch-22 of theater unions. I was glad when I worked in Equity houses that I was in costumes and not on stage or the stage manager (who is also a member of AEA). Though IATSE has it's own crazy regs, many wardrobe positions aren't IA.

But we digress.

As long as payments by dancers to the companies are agreed upon and in writing I have no problem with any manner of "cooperative producing". I have a problem with the companies not being upfront with their dancers at the beginning of the rehearsal period. I'm a big believer in contracts. Then everyone is on the same page. So to speak.

Author:  osiris661 [ Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

LMCtech wrote:
I'm a big believer in contracts. Then everyone is on the same page. So to speak.

Amen to that!!! 8)

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