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#PayTheDancers – What are you worth?

This week has been enormous in so many areas of dance, but the one that captured me so much was the global issue of dancers not being paid what they are worth, brought to the worlds attention by Paul Malek and the team at Dance Chat with #PayTheDancers

However, it seem in increasing frequency, commercial gigs are offered to dancers for little to no pay, based on the supply and demand theory. Producers know that if one dancer will not take the role, another will on the  promise of exposure and experience.

Now, we have all taken gigs for reduced pay for community events, charities, and start up gigs, but when the role is very commercial, as it was for a Kylie Minogue video clip shot in Melbourne, then surely dancers should get paid a decent, and respectful wage.

Paul and his team raised the issue, which was then taken up by Channel 10 on The Project  on Thursday 24th.

A media frenzy then errupted with local papers, TV shows and social media channels being flooded with commentary on the situation.

Even the judges on So You Think You Can Dance Australia made their opinion clear in this interview with Paul…

#paythedancers

This has lead to Equity getting involved, and full payment will be made to all dancers involved in the clip, and at her performance at the Logies, and will hopefully raise the bar for professional dancers in the future.

The people responsible for the Kylie clip initially have now made a public statement sayng that it was a “mistake” (no kidding) but does this really make up for such a gross error in a professional setting?

But, it is not just Australian dancers getting asked to pay for minimal amounts. I discovered this add for dancers for The Royal Opera House in London looking for 6 dancers…

The add is nothing special, but I especially like the postscript note from the editor of Article19, which states…

Article19 Note: One of our jobs here at Article19 is to publish auditions for professional dancers irrespective of our views about a particular dance maker, company or anything else to do with the job being advertised. If the job is not a good fit for our readership (like a cruise ship audition) then it will not be published.

In this case however the amount of pay being offered (a weirdly specific £358.72 per week) is another matter. We have spoken at great length on Article19 about the dire need for professional dancers to be respected, especially with regards to the amount of money they are paid for doing a job. We have written long and detailed pieces about the abuses by large scale organisations like English National Opera when it comes to renumeration for dancers working on their productions.

It would appear that those abuses continue unabated. It is of course your decision as to whether or not you apply for the job advertised above (although we doubt that many of our readers are “pole dancers”). But bear this in mind before sending your CV.

The ROH receives over £20Million in annual funding from Arts Council England and they receive tens of millions more in additional funding for other projects. The conductor of this opera and the Music Director of the Royal Opera House Antonio Poppano is paid (according to most recent records) over £700,000 per annum.

Why is he worth more than you? Why does he deserve outlandish largesse and you, mere dancers, are not even deserving of a living wage?

The choice is yours.

Dancers spend their lives, and huge amounts of hours and $$, honing their bodies to perform super human feats like those demonstated so beautifully by Michael Dameski in his heatstopping solo on SYTYCD Semi Final… (I think I have watched this at least 10 times…!)

Michael Dameski

What should this kind of talent be worth…?

I would love to hear what you think about this issue, and whether you have had experience of offers of very little pay for your work.

Have a wonderful week!

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