Rewarding Students for Dancing
If you are a teacher with a student group who perform with you at fetes, festivals or restaurants, and if you get paid for those gigs, do you share out the money with the troupe? Or do you view them as volunteer dancers who are gaining experience and having fun, and besides, there are too many of them to get a share and still leave enough for you? What do students think about this?
If teachers allow or expect students to perform in public for nothing – because its ‘fun’ – what message is that giving students about the value of performing properly? There are times when professional dancers complain about amateurs undercutting them at restaurants, or dancing for free and giving bellydance a poor image because they are not very good dancers. But if you encourage your students to see it as ‘only fun’ that ‘anyone can do’ and doesn’t actually need to be very good to be seen in public, how are students meant to understand that a performance before the general public has to be worth seeing and needs to keep certain standards of technique and style?
Do you have certain levels that a student knows that they must pass before they can perform at a hafla, a fete, a festival, etc, and then reward those students accordingly for dances well done? What would students like in return as way of encouragement?
I think like everything it depends on the situation. Every time a student performance is held, the audience should be fully aware that they are students. Most of the time, audiences are wonderfully supportive of students. A community event usually won't pay much. The teacher deserves that money for creating a good student opportunity by writing the choreography, setting up the music, finding and coordinating the event, holding rehearsals, etc. If the community event organizer throws the teacher $25, she should keep it. Any tips a student dancer might receive are theirs.
Originally Posted by Duvet
If it's a student night at a restaurant, same thing applies. I'm not a big fan of students dancing in restaurants though. There are much more gentle venues.
Everyone has to start dancing somewhere. I started dancing "out" for free at nursing homes, for friends, at haflas, community charity events, and other free venues where none of the performers were paid and it was made clear to me and the audience that I was a student and not a professional. I danced for free where it was appropriate to do so and it was always made very clear that I wasn't worth paying to see yet.
Originally Posted by Duvet
Next I moved up to accompanied balloon deliveries (the teacher was paid not me even though I danced) , then did them by myself (I was paid). Then I did the whole process again with parties. I spent a short time with a troupe, and then struck out on my own. Then I started teaching and now I get to bring my students to nursing homes
Nope, everyone even student's non-dancing friends are free to get up and boogie. My haflas are actual parties, not student showcases. When students are ready to take on more, and need a little push, I ask them if they want to take on more and only when the right thing for them comes along.
Originally Posted by Duvet
Reward students who are paying me to teach them? No. I don't see a need for that. I simply tell them how they're doing- good or bad. I've never thought of performing, paid or not, as an encouragement. A lot of students have no interest in performing and they still want to excel. The reward isn't performing opportunities, it is simply the joy of dancing and being one with the music.
Many good points here already.
If you start paying once, there will be an expection that you will pay them later as well.
If the pay is good, you may help covering their expenses (such as parking/bus tickets or perhaps studio rent), or if it is really good invite them for dinner. After you have covered your expenses and you want to share what is left, you may also make a fund for students covering expenses for hiring troupe costumes or helping paying the students expenses for future, less paid gigs where your students are performing.
Around here, community festival performances only pay a rather small amount to cover "expenses for instruction", which is rather symbolic. My first paid gig was at a community festival, and my teacher (who got me the gig) got half the money and me and a friend who substituted her got the other half. I would have done it even without the pay just to get the experience performing and was thrilled that my teacher asked us to perform.
I seem to have a different view to the others who have replied
After expenses have been covered, of course the pay should be shared among those who have done the work! Often here, the only work on top of the normal running of the school that the teacher has had to do to get the gig, is say yes and bring the CD. The gig is a form of promotion for the teacher and dance school; the teacher's choreographing and networking time, and specific operating expenses such as telephone, are a normal part of running a business and all the students have already paid for that with their term's fees.
Everyone involved would (should!) have done some extra work rehearsing and preparing costumes, plus spent money on costuming, makeup etc.
If the pay amounts to a very small amount, it is more useful to put it into a fund for troupe expenses. I personally prefer that to not having a choice about the reward e.g. "free" dinner.
Community gigs aren't likely to get Actor's Equity pay rates, but I do think it is important to take everyone's contribution seriously. I wouldn't walk around handing out leaflets promoting a business without being paid (actually, I wouldn't do it at all unless reposession was threatening ) so why work for a dance teacher for free? We dance for fun and strive to do our best, but professionalism also includes the business aspect.
I think the intermediate students (who are still relatively new and are lucky to be performing at all) should be reimbursed for gas. For them, it's mostly about experience. And maybe a small percentage of the cut just so they have a little something. And the rest should be shared among the more experienced dancers.
Look at it like a concert. People are coming to see the famous person/group, but they often get a lesser-known band to be their opening act. Most of the money goes to the main person/group, but I'm sure the opening act people get a some money, too. The intermediate people are like the opening act and the experienced dancers are like the main show because they have more skills.
Another good way to determine is: how long was each person performing? Because I think the intermediate students (new performers) wouldn't have as many skills so they wouldn't be on as long. And the advanced/experienced students would take up more time because they have a bigger skill set and can show off more. People who are on longer get a bigger cut of the money.
I don't accept paying gigs myself and I don't arrange paying gigs for my students. Anyone wishing to dance at pro bono/community events is responsible for turning up regularly at practice and for getting themselves to wherever the event is being held.
Should I ever lose my mind and commit to a paid performance again, the fee gets split between all performers AND the dear student who turns up and helps out at all performances whether she dances or not.
WARNING: UNPOPULAR OPINION ABOUT TO BE EXPRESSED
There are times when professional dancers complain about amateurs undercutting them at restaurants, or dancing for free and giving bellydance a poor image because they are not very good dancers.
Once you're dancing for pay, you've crossed the line between amateur and professional whether you're 2012's Fifi or trip over your own feet trying to do a drop lick. Professional does not equal good dancer and amateur does not equal poor dancer.
Dancing is a business and no dancer is obligated to step aside in order for another dancer to have a job. A good dancer with good business skills knows that being undercut by lousy dancers is occasionally going to be an occupational hazard but so is competing with good dancers who charge less because they are just starting out.
It is one thing for a relatively unexperienced dancer to say, "Fire her and I'll dance for half the price" but why should a good amateur not cross the line to professional at a reduced fee? Had I as a newly minted paralegal insisted on receiving the same pay as the firm's senior CLA I wouldn't have been offered a job. The better CLA I became, the more money I could demand. Dancing is no different.
Originally Posted by Shanazel
I have a "student troupe" -- we do not perform (as a student troupe) for money. We do small community events and nursing homes, but I would never think to hire this group out to do weddings or big gala events. They are STUDENTS and they dance like students. Plus it's a no-cut group which means no matter what your skill level, if you show up for class and practice, you can dance.
In my case, I do not have a "professional troupe" and when such a troupe is requested, I have to either refer out, or sell the client on having just me.
If it's primarily the teacher providing performance experiences for baby dancers then IMO the performance is the reward. If it's teacher out publicising herself and/or her dance school then the students are doing her a favour - expenses and a cut of any fees are appropriate. If it's more of a communal group collective thing rather than under the teacher's wing, split everything. (there ya go, sorted )
Of course in practice there are grey areas, but it's another situation where IMO you save a lot of grief if everyone is clear about what the group is about BEFORE you get to the awkward questions.
I was reading a review of one of the belly dancing studios in my area. Some people were complaining that the dancers only got $25 for the night, and that amount of money barely covered their expenses. And then another dancer who has been working at the studio for several years said that $25 is for the beginners. And the more experienced dancers got to choose which restaurants they performed at and made a lot more than $25. She also said that the people who work for less, choose to do so. And of course there are still other people (from other studios) who come in and dance for free.
I think a lot of "going pro" should depend on how much experience you have. People who just started out have no business performing at restaurants, shows, etc. because they simply do not have enough experience to do anything. It might even make belly dancing look bad and make people not want to hire belly dancers, because these people don't really know what they're doing.
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