Guide for Building a Dancer’s Contract

When a person or entity hires a dancer without offering them a contract, the lack of clarity around expectations can lead to confusion and tension in the workplace. At their worst, absent or ambiguous contracts can result in a workplace where dancers feel pressured to do anything their employer asks at any time, for fear of being penalized.

DANC has been working to rectify this problem for the last several years. DANC’s “Guide for Building a Dancer’s Contract” is a tool designed to ensure that all areas pertinent to employment are agreed upon explicitly between the dancer and the hiring entity. It is a unique tool crafted by a multitude of DANC volunteers and it is a constant work in progress.

The creation of this contract-building tool began in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic. Dozens of DANC volunteers from across the country met regularly via video chat to draft language that they wished would be included in a dancer’s contract. Four focus groups met to strategize around different topics: Equity, Wages, Benefits, and Working Conditions. In the following year, DANC volunteers combined the language and ideas generated by these groups into a hefty menu of options that included every possible sentence or clause that might show up in a dancer’s contract. We quickly learned that our attempt to think of every possible employment scenario was presumptuous and overzealous, but it still led us to a fruitful outcome. We generated a beautiful, messy, 45-page document covered in suggestions and comments by dozens of DANC members.

Over the past year, DANC volunteers have been transforming the promising content of this cluttered document into a more accessible and functional contract-building tool. We’re creating an online questionnaire that addresses conditions of a dancer’s employment. Once a user completes the questionnaire, a customized document is generated based on the answers provided. This customized document can be used as a starting point for a contract between dancer and hiring entity, and it’s editable, so anything can be changed or removed.

This online tool has yet to be released publicly, and it is currently being tested and improved by volunteer DANC members. We know that the contract-builder will be a perpetual work in progress, but we’re getting close to releasing our first version for broader use. The images and video below are from a preliminary draft.

If you’d like to stay up to date on the release:

screenshot titled, "Employment Type"
Image description: A screenshot of an online questionnaire with the following text: Employment Type. The DANC Standards encourage hiring entities to hire dancers as employees rather than as independent contractors. Learn more. The Dancer is being hired as an a)Employee or b) Independent Contractor. Employee is a) Exempt or b) Non-exempt. What do exempt and non-exempt mean? Page 12 of 57.
screenshot titled, "Payment"
Image description: A screenshot of an online questionnaire with the following text: Payment. The DANC Standards encourage employers to pay dancers a minimum of $30/hour. Learn More. The dancers will be paid (select all that apply): a) Per Hour, b) Per Week, c) Per Month, d) Per Performance, e) A one-time flat fee, or f) Other. Dancers will be paid: a) Weekly, b) Bi-Weekly, or c) Other.
screenshot titled, "Scheduling"
Image description: A screenshot of an online questionnaire with the following text: Scheduling. Will the work schedule be specified in this letter of agreement? a) yes or b) no. If there is a schedule change or cancellation, how will notice be distributed? a) Text, b) Email, c) Whatsapp, d) Google app, or e) Other. Is there a minimum notice period the Company must provide in advance of proposed changes to the schedule? a) yes or b) no.
screenshot titled, "Warm Up"
Image description: A screenshot of an online questionnaire with the following text: Warm Up. Note: DANC recommends that hiring entities provide dancers with adequate time and space to warm up prior to all rehearsals, and provide adequate time to cool down and exit the rehearsal space prior to scheduled end time. Will a warm-up be offered as part of paid work and compensated in accordance with pay rate? a) yes or b) no. Is a warm-ip mandatory? a)yes or b) no. Minimum duration of warm up in minutes: an empty fill-in-the-blank. Location of warm-up: an empty fill-in-the-blank.