Dancing Inside the Institution: Examining Labor Rights Within Major Dance Companies
By: Donald Borror
Published: 05/01/2015
Uploaded: 05/12/2015
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration, Arts Administration Program Theses, Dance, Other, ARAD Theses: Fall 2013 to Spring 2015
Tags: AGMA, Dance, Dance Companies, Labor relations, unions

Description/Abstract: This research examines the administrative structures of large unionized dance organizations and their ability to provide support for their dancers. As the challenging professional field of dance continues to raise the barrier for new entrants, this paper assesses the protocols and processes of industry leaders to evaluate if they indeed provide an environment for dancers to thrive. In conversation with company managers from five major unionized companies, the administrative structures and internal dynamics of these organizations are analyzed to assess their ability to provide support for their dancers. Identifying the professional goals of a dancer and the deep entanglement of their professional and personal lives helps guide the organization of support structures within the dance company environment. Looking at the current state of support provided by the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the professional dancerís union, not all challenges faced by professional dancers are met with sufficient support. Two main types of support emerge, procedural guidelines and general employee benefits, which are both heavily dependent on the companyís ability to fund. Additionally, organizational transition, internal company culture, and personalities all have an impact on the way that needs of the dancers are met. Informal protocols, such as an acute awareness to communication, seem to provide the most constructive way for dealing with AGMA guidelines. While the question remains if these guidelines produce a higher quality of performance from the artist, AGMA establishes an environment committed to addressing the challenges faced by professional dancers.