Dance Artists’ National Collective (DANC) is a united group of dancers advocating for safe, equitable, and sustainable working conditions for dancers in the U.S., especially those who are most impacted by systems of oppression. DANC works to empower dancers, who are often underpaid, mistreated, manipulated, and misclassified, by engaging in research, sharing resources, educating members, organizing for collective action, and championing labor standards.
Dancers are Workers
Dancers are workers and deserve to be paid and treated as such. Dancers are entitled to all protections granted to workers under U.S. labor laws, including the power to shape the terms of their labor.
DANC advocates for livable wages and sustainable labor standards for all dancers. DANC advocates for dancers to be hired as employees rather than misclassified as independent contractors–a common occurrence which is often in direct contradiction to U.S. tax and labor laws.
DANC functions to support anyone and everyone who identifies as a dancer, including those who have worked, currently work, or intend to work as dancers, whether as employees, contractors, union dancers, non-union dancers, freelancers, gig workers, full time dancers, part time dancers, or dancers who are not (or not yet) paid for their dance work.
DANC advocates for safety, equity, and sustainability in the working lives of dancers. This involves acknowledging every individual’s lived experience and recognizing the impact of large scale discriminatory patterns that endure and intersect across the dance ecosystem. Through advocacy and direct action, DANC works to dismantle damaging ideologies and systems, including white supremacy, sexism, and ableism, and works for justice for LGBTQIA2S+, disabled, BIPOC, and immigrant dancers. DANC works for justice within our own organization, throughout our field, and at large.
Because systemic injustice creates high barriers to entry and participation, many groups of people may be underrepresented in the dance field, and similarly underrepresented in DANC. We strive towards ever-expanding equitable representation in the field as well as within DANC, both among our membership generally and in our leadership specifically. In working towards greater justice, it is essential that we center and support the leadership of those most impacted by systems of oppression and marginalization that we aim to dismantle.
Collective Action in Community
Learning about labor rights and the importance of self worth is not common practice in the dance field. Neither is coming together with fellow dancers in order to address problems in the workplace. We believe this kind of cooperation is a powerful tool to effect meaningful positive change.
Some dancers have access to union support, but many dancers work entirely or partially outside the realm of union work. For these dancers, there is a clear need for a support system, as they often find themselves underpaid, mistreated, manipulated, and misclassified. While DANC itself is not a union, we are in the process of researching the feasibility of unionizing dancers who have not been eligible for inclusion in established performing arts unions.
While DANC’s work is focused on dancers within the U.S. dance ecosystem, we welcome others to participate in solidarity. Those who identify as choreographers, artistic directors, rehearsal directors, dance teachers, dance students, administrators, artists of other forms, plus people who identify with none or with more than one of these labels are all welcome in this space. When we come together at DANC, we focus on advocating specifically for dancers.
Greater good can be achieved through the sharing of information and resources. DANC members benefit from a community in which we frequently share opportunities, funding sources, experiences, perspectives, educational tools, data, and literature with each other. Similarly, we benefit from interaction with other organizations in alignment with our cause.
While DANC members are certainly experts regarding our own experiences, DANC does not claim to have “all the answers.” DANC is just one group among many involved in artist organizing and advocacy and acknowledges and appreciates the valuable work, both past and present, of individuals and organizations with similar goals.
DANC advocates for the practice of transparency by institutions, organizations, and individuals in positions of power in order to promote ethical distribution of knowledge and power in the dance ecosystem at large. Transparency is also valued internally at DANC and is practiced within all our ongoing operations. In addition, our past meeting notes, budget, and bylaws are available for public viewing on our website.
DANC strives to instigate deep cultural shifts in the prevailing attitudes and frameworks surrounding dancers’ rights, the conditions and classification of dance work, and sustainability in the dance ecosystem. We center this work around the needs and concerns of those who are most impacted by systems of oppression, including disabled, BIPOC, immigrant, and LGBTQIA2S+, dancers.
It is our goal to effect meaningful changes to the power structures in the dance ecosystem by firmly grounding these changes in the rights of dancers as workers. Through membership-led initiatives and advocacy, DANC seeks to establish and maintain industry-wide labor standards in order to generate systemic change in the way dancers are hired, treated, and paid for their work.
Comprehensive cultural shift requires conscious decentering and dismantling of structures and systems that support and enable inequitable cultural and aesthetic standards in dance. This includes actively fighting against white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia with the recognition that these systems have intersectional impacts. With this goal in mind, DANC strives to utilize inclusive, accessible, and culturally competent practices in our meetings, documents, leadership structure, and advocacy.
DANC values dynamic shared leadership structures that utilize participatory decision-making towards principled action. We celebrate leadership as a collaborative effort, a shared responsibility that empowers all members to influence the direction of DANC and holds us accountable to each other.
We recognize each person’s potential to contribute to leadership. We reject harmful white supremacist, patriarchal, and ableist leadership structures that limit participation and sharing of information and grant outsized power to a few privileged individuals.
DANC values democratic processes in decision-making and action. DANC’s Mission Statement, Guiding Principles, and Bylaws will be continuously reassessed and can change as membership and leadership circulate and evolves.