For many years now, I have run a private group page on Facebook (with the help of some wonderful admins) where we talk about one of the most emotionally tied topics in our industry….rates. This group has been paramount and I want to start off by thanking everyone who has participated in the group, making this Orlando rates/community page and thus the community, stronger and more educated.
We have made some great strides and also some alarming discoveries based on the feedback and data in the group. I am also including as well, 13 years of being in the business and speaking with dancers from across the world about the subject. So, where are some areas where we can improve? Here are a few things that have presented themselves:
- Less experienced dancers and students are the least vocal in these groups and within their community, while more experienced dancers are very vocal.
- As a whole, rates continue to climb very slowly and in many areas, simply cannot support the expenses associated with being a performer or teacher as a form of livelihood.
- Because the internet continues to foster a number of social communication issues whereby some users feel they can say anything online (something they would never say to one’s face), we continue to see unhealthy forms of discussion around these topics online.
- Less experienced dancers and bookers are sometimes going rogue and leaving the discussion with their community as they become desperate to try and earn money.
So dancers, community, bookers, this leaves us with several questions that we as humans and members of this industry and our local community must ponder:
- How do we motivate the lesser experienced dancers and teachers to take part in this conversation?
- What can we do to earn a viable income and not just succeed, but thrive doing what we love to do?
- How can communication be improved online and off?
- How can we take those “bad apples” in the community and make them see the deep and long-term consequences that their actions have on the dance community?
These are questions that I alone cannot answer. But what we can do is have an open-minded conversation and share ideas, stories, and data to come up with solutions that can lead to much more success on a larger scale.
My Thoughts on These Questions…
I do not have a definitive answer, but I will share my thoughts on these questions and what is helping/working (even if on a small scale) in our local community.
The best way to have less experienced, dancers, teachers, and bookers communicate is to reach out to them directly. If you are the teacher or mentor of one, explain the importance of your community, why various ethics and protocols are incorporated into just about everything in this world, and how their voice matters and leads to change, new ideas, or more. Share community resources, links, books, etc.
I feel that fear is often the leading cause of why a less experienced community member may choose not to partake in the discussion either online or off. Fear of being “wrong”. Fear of their idea being “rejected”. The fear of saying something they may regret. While all of these are normal fears to have, every community has elders, moderators, etc. that understand this and can guide you into how best to formulate your idea, response, etc. These are skills that need to be passed down and shared. No idea is wrong, every voice matters, and if your idea is not popular, so what?
Having a respectful and data-backed debate with your peers is much better than fighting online with emotions as the driver. The art of debate is a powerful tool I hope everyone can delve into and learn deeply. It will lead you to more success in your personal and work life.
I implore dancers to try and speak face to face whenever possible or at least over a Facetime/Zoom call to discuss matters.
Earning A Living
Everyone who decides to earn money in the Arts industry should learn about at least the basics of business, finance, negotiations, and conduct a market analysis.
I know I know, I will get some eyebrow raises here, particularly if you are someone with a day job that only offers goods/services as a hobby, but these skills are crucial if we are ever going to improve things in the long-run and work as a community.
I can’t tell you how many dance teachers I know who rely on their partners or have to work another job in order to be able to pay their bills. This was not the case even a decade ago.
When you think of this as a business, everything changes. Even if you do not rely on dance as your income, you must respect and follow basic guidelines to ensure you do not undercut the market and run people out of business who have been earning an honest living for many years.
You don’t lower the price on something just because. That affects the market you are in, forces a downward trend in price in most cases, and again, leads to fewer profits (if any).
It doesn’t matter if you sell one good/service a year or 1000, by using basic business skills, you do not hurt the market and allow for those that DO want to dedicate their lives to this, to actually do so and support their family.
A hobbyist or newer professional should follow the same guidelines their community has established as if they were a full timer. Everyone needs to have the same A,B,C’s if you will, in order for things to work.
Communication Online and Off
One of the biggest pet peeves I have with the internet is how disrespectful some people can be online. Yes, we have freedom of speech and can say what we want. But where are basic manners and compassion for your fellow community members? You don’t have to like everyone, you can have enemies, but you can still show respect and compassion for them. This is something we need to remind everyone of more and more. We are losing the human element at times when we are online, behind a screen. Guidelines, ethics, good morals, this is up to us to share and uphold. Be the example.
Dealing With Bad Apples
This is one area I simply do not know where to begin on. There will always be those who simply want to purposefully undercut, start hate groups, and think of everyone else but their bubble as an enemy. How do you deal with these people in your community? Who has had success in utilizing tactics and strategies to make them see things from a larger standpoint?
I hope this post leaves you with some food for that and that you can reflect on the various topics touched here. I would love to hear what you have to say. Let’s make this industry better. Let’s make our community better? Let’s be a great example and have more compassion for others.
Share this post with your community and let’s start talking about solutions. We know the issues, let’s share how to fix them, and learn from each other. The vast majority of our communities want to improve things, want better communication and want to learn how to make their business thrive, what is stopping yours from doing so? What would need to occur for things to improve? Let’s talk!