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Landed a New Gig? 5 Ways to Negotiate the Best Deal
Dancers and choreographers must be strong, clear communicators when it comes to negotiating contracts and agreements. That's part of the philosophy espoused by A. Nia Austin-Edwards, the founder of PURPOSE Productions, a Brooklyn-based organization that provides strategic support to artists throughout the U.S.
One of the reasons many dance artists struggle to negotiate successfully for themselves is what Austin-Edwards refers to as a scarcity mindset. "The scarcity of work and money allows people to say yes to some really outrageous things," she says. For example, dancers might accept a much smaller fee than what they feel they deserve, or tolerate body-shaming remarks from a choreographer because they reason "At least I have health insurance."
Rather than feel pressured to say yes to whatever is presented to them, dance artists have to be clear about the space and time conditions that will allow them to thrive. Follow these five steps to set yourself up for a successful negotiation.
1. Clarify the Offer
When presented with an opportunity, Austin-Edwards recommends that dancers initiate healthy communication by restating the facts of the offer—be it a residency or choreography commission, for instance—to ensure that you understand the main points. The institution can then affirm or clarify, and if you're unsatisfied, you can turn it down or offer an alternative. "The premise is absolutely clarity of communication," she says, "so that everybody knows what they are agreeing to."
2. Suggest An Alternative
Austin-Edwards emphasizes that offering an alternative is an effective way to keep the conversation moving in a productive direction and shows a willingness to compromise while also being clear about personal boundaries. She suggests using phrases like "I don't have the capacity to manage all that right now, but here's a series of deadlines I can provide for you so you can understand when things can get done, and you can get what you need in a way that supports both of us."
3. Set Clear Boundaries
Know what your "absolute deal-breakers" are and at what point an opportunity is not worth it, whether that's a certain amount of money or a limit to how much time you can commit to rehearsals. That way, Austin-Edwards says, you'll have clear standards that you can use to judge whether a particular job is truly worthwhile.
She recognizes that when you need to pay bills, it's not always that easy to turn down work. Therefore, it's helpful to know what your other options and skills are. Consider your alternatives, like taking a short-term side job while looking for something else.
4. Ask for Outside Opinions
Before deciding, try discussing the situation with someone else. "The reason some people get away with some outrageous things is because no one talks about them," says Austin-Edwards. "You need colleagues and mentors you can talk to honestly." She emphasizes the importance of having a multigenerational network of friends and allies so that you can solicit a variety of opinions, especially if you're uncertain about what to do.
5. Take Your Time To Decide
"Don't feel like you have to make a decision right away," she says. "Give yourself time to walk away and think about it."
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
The #MeToo movement has made its way to France's biggest ballet company.
An anonymous survey recently leaked to the French press revealed major turbulence at the Paris Opéra Ballet. The Straits Times reports that the survey was conducted by an internal group representing POB's dancers. In it, there are numerous claims of bullying, sexual harassment and management issues.
Nearly all of the dancers (132 out of 154) answered the questionnaire, but they didn't know it would be made public. (Around 100 of them later signed a statement saying they didn't consent to its release.)
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.
The ballet world will converge on San Francisco this month for San Francisco Ballet's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a 17-day event featuring 12 world premieres, a symposium, original dance films and pop-up events.
"Ballet is going through changes," says artistic director Helgi Tomasson. "I thought, What would it be like to bring all these choreographers together in one place? Would I discover some trends in movement, or in how they are thinking?"
Several weeks ago, Youth America Grand Prix announced that the lineup for tonight's Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow gala at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater would include Bolshoi Ballet principal Olga Smirnova and first soloist Jacopo Tissi. But an article in Page Six published last night states that Smirnova and Tissi were denied visas to enter the US.
YAGP organizers "believe the Department of Homeland Security's decision may be motivated by the myriad tensions between the superpowers," says the piece, noting that "Smirnova is so revered in Moscow that her treatment could create a Russian backlash."
Is it any surprise a world premiere by choreographer Uri Sands and musician Justin Vernon, both renowned for the profound beauty and gorgeous musicality of their work, immediately sold out? We're hungry for creative collaborations that take reflective deep dives into what constitutes our humanity—and then there's the undeniable cool factor. Nine members of TU Dance will perform alongside Bon Iver (Vernon's band) during the evening-length piece. Presented as part of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music Series. April 19–21. The work will also appear at the Hollywood Bowl Aug. 5. tudance.org.