As a dance professional, it is imperative that you go through the exercise of costing your work.
On a practical level it will give you a framework within which to operate.
What is your time worth? What does it mean for your daily finances when you say yes to a thirty-minute gig that pays only $100? Can you afford to accept a commission, or will you end up subsidizing another artist?
On a philosophical level, accepting that your art has value enables you to come from a position of strength when dealing with presenters, choreographers and employers. Calculating the minimum is a manageable place to start.
The basic minimum! Minimum wage is $10.25 an hour! Shouldn’t you be getting paid at least that to choreograph, interpret, and perform?
The personal minimum! What does your rent job (teaching/temping/administration) pay you per hour? Isn’t your work as a dance professional worth at least that much as well?
The comparative minimum! What do your colleagues — the composers, lighting designers, and musicians — charge? What do your friends — the computer consultants, staff trainers, and private tutors — charge for their work?
The Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists has developed the Professional Standards for Dance. A document which clarifies the ideal rates for nearly everything a dancer might do. You can access them here:
Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists
Read the Professional Standards For Dance
Article originally contributed by Nova Bhattacharya. Updated June 2010