Dance Magazine: Please Stop Asking Dance Artists to Perform "in Exchange for Exposure"

By Isabelle Vail

4 August 2018

Below is an excerpt from an article by Jennifer Stahl for Dance Magazine:

“Earlier this week, a friend of a friend reached out to me seeking recommendations for a dancer/choreographer to hire. She wanted someone who could perform a solo and talk about their process for an arts-appreciation club. After a few emails back and forth, as I was trying to find out exactly what kind of choreographer she was looking for, it eventually emerged that she was not looking to pay this person.

"We are hoping to find someone who would be willing to participate in exchange for the exposure," she wrote.

Why do people think this is an okay thing to ask for?”

Stahl’s article highlights one of DDP’s greatest concerns - females creating and performing without compensation. While Stahl’s article does not discriminate by gender, it is important to consider the situation of female choreographers starting off without a real platform for exposure and networking.

Where their male counterparts are cultivated more often by the male artistic directors, female dancers wishing to begin choreography must grapple with encouragement to become a ballet mistress or repeteur. They must tackle the misleading advertisements of “exposure” on their own, often taking a gig without knowing there is no stipend or benefits in the end.

All choreographers live paycheck to paycheck, but how often have you heard of a female artists of a company being “taken under the wing” by the male artistic director. Would Justin Peck have gotten the opportunities he had without the encouragement and platform provided by Peter Martins (Martins’ scandal aside)?

Jennifer Stahl finishes her article with some reassuring words: “For my part, I told the woman I couldn't recommend a choreographer unless she was going to offer them some form of compensation. Within hours, she found enough wiggle room to come up with both a small stipend and a few meaningful perks. It may not be much, but it's a start.”

A woman leading the way to a better community- that is a start.

Read the full article in Dance Magazine.