06 March 2020
Members of the Agents Community and Dancers Network, many of whom are Equity members, have been working with Equity to find a way of making improvements in the commercial dance sector to the working conditions and health and safety of the dancers the industry employs. Commercial Dancers work with multiple engagers in live performance, performing with recording artists on tours, at trade shows and a multitude of other live events, all with numerous physical challenges, varying dance spaces and performance stresses.
In conversations with the Dancers Network and Equity, leading Dance Agencies have agreed to ensure that they ask clients to agree to at least a basic minimum standard of care for each booking. They have worked on and developed some standard minimum asks from clients in relation to hours of work, breaks, holiday, inclusion of warm ups, provision of meals, provision of late night transport, changing areas and bathroom facilities and decent working temperatures amongst other terms.
Clients when booking dancers will also be advised of the need to alert the Agency and Dancer to any significant risks involved in the work and whether there is nudity or semi nudity involved. They will also be asked to affirm that all relevant insurances are in place.
A list of Dance Agencies using these terms will be on the Equity website and available on the Dancers Network.
Hilary Hadley, Head of Equity’s Live Performance states:
“Many dancers are working in areas in live performance that I can only describe as the Wild West of the industry. There may be some engagers who provide excellent care to the dancers, but if so this is not consistent. Many dancers have been working with no rules, no standard working hours and no penalties when they are treated badly. Serious attempts must be made by those who engage dancers to ensure that risks are minimised and that dancers are treated to the same protections as any other worker. Agencies providing decent booking terms to their numerous clients is a first step in this process. Equity is fully supportive of this initiative from the Agents and the Dancers Network and hopes to see real change in this industry”
Kathryn Snook of AMCK Dance Agency states:
“It has been a great honour working alongside Dancers Network and Equity to bring about a much-needed change within our industry. Dancers work tirelessly and to have their efforts protected is long overdue and will preserve the quality of the incredible, diverse talent that the UK has to offer"
Li Li Hodge, an original founder member of the Dancers Network states:
"We set up the Dancers Network to try to stand up for all dancers who are in fear of even asking the basic questions concerning the conditions of the work that is being offered them and to provide them with a voice to do so. We are a fast moving movement bringing together agencies, colleges, mental health professionals and dancers to work together as a community. The dedication of a few individuals has really helped our movement thrive, and we have been delighted to work alongside Equity and the top UK Dance Agencies to work on these booking terms together. I have been working as a dancer for many years and I have frankly despaired that conditions are worsening rather than improving. We owe it to the dancers of the future to turn this round and make these changes now!”.