One thing we all ask ourselves as professional dance artists is… ‘what if?’

This not only applies to creation, but it also applies to the highs and lows of dance business.

What if:

…we are hurt on stage or in rehearsal?

…we have our choreography stolen?

…our producer is short changing the dancers or not paying us in a timely manner?

…what if you are harassed in the work place?

These are just a few questions that can make or break your career in hard times and good times. The funny thing is that most independent dancers do not know the answer to these questions.

So how do we answer these questions?

First, let’s talk about RIGHTS under Canadian law. At the foundation we must discuss the Canadian Federal ‘Status of the Artist Act’ that recognizes the importance of protecting the artist as a professional worker, but fails to mandate these protections as enforceable. The real right we have as mandated by the SOTAA is the right to association. Meaning, we have the right to get together within our professional practice and find ways to support each other, with official recognition of our professional association as the voice for those members they serve. Standing together with a unified voice empowers a strength that one independent dancer might find almost impossible while managing their own dance business.

Canadian Actors’ Equity Association is the official association of the live performing artists for theatre, dance & opera in English speaking Canada. For artists, by artists. Our one enforceable right as professional dancers is that of association, and from there, we can find ways to answer those ‘what if’ questions from above.

For members of CAEA, what if:

…we are hurt on stage or in rehearsal? – The¬†insurance policy within EQ¬†contract supports costs & payment for time you cannot work due to the injury.

…we have our choreography stolen? – EQ contracts include royalties for choreographers and directors. If violated, you have legal recourse.

…our producer is short changing the dancers or not paying us in a timely manner? – Producers who do not honour the pay or schedule within EQ contracts can have their whole productions shut down legally by EQ on your behalf until the outstanding balance is paid in full.

….what if you are harrassed in the work place? – Equity has launched the our ‘Not In Our Space!’ Campaign. We have designated reps to discuss your options and a spectrum of approaches to arbitating, settling or supporting you engaging producing company to take action to address the issue.

These are three examples of how we protect our members where independent dance artists must navigate these troubled waters by themselves and with few resources. If you have ever been in these scenarios and can see the value of this support, I encourage you to consider joining CAEA to aid your professional dance career.