The New Agreement Recognizing Dancers' Creative Contributions on Broadway
For a Broadway dancer, few opportunities are more exciting than being part of the creation of an original show. But if that show goes on to become wildly successful, who reaps the benefits? Thanks to a new deal between Actors' Equity Association and The Broadway League, performers involved in a production's development will now receive their own cut of the earnings.
The new agreement, which was made in February, means actors and stage managers will get paid more for their participation in labs and workshops. And, after the show recoups its initial investment, they will split 1 percent of the profits (including any touring productions), for up to 10 years.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Hamilton
Traditionally, performers were paid $1,000 per week for being part of a developmental workshop, but those payments ended when the workshop did. Many began to feel that this wage no longer reflected the contributions they were making.
"The salaries on the lab agreement had not shifted in 10 years, and the landscape of developing shows had shifted significantly during that period," says Stephen Bogardus, an actor and the chair of Equity's show development committee. "When we go into a rehearsal room, we're giving our ideas to the creative team. We were being leaned on more and more for our contributions, and that wasn't recognized." When a show becomes profitable, the union argued, the artists who helped create it (even if they were only involved in the early stages) should reap some of the rewards.
The push for profit-sharing began gaining momentum in 2016, when Hamilton became a Broadway blockbuster and the original cast struck a deal with producers to receive a percentage of the earnings. Since then, some productions, like Mean Girls and Frozen, have voluntarily put profit-sharing arrangements in place.
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown
The conversation came to a head in January, when Equity members went on a monthlong strike from developmental work. According to the union, it was their largest member mobilization effort in decades. They held 52 cast meetings with both Broadway and touring shows, and more than 3,000 working Equity members signed commitment cards to show their support.
As Broadway shows become more daring and complex, the demands placed on dancers—particularly ensemble members—are only increasing. As Bogardus points out, the new agreement will particularly affect those artists who receive the lowest wages on Broadway. "I don't think anybody works harder than the ensemble," he says. "No one deserves it more than them."
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.