Tuesday, November 22, 2022
HomeDanceThe freelance dance life: U.S. versus overseas

The freelance dance life: U.S. versus overseas

As a U.S.-based freelance dancer, I’ve typically questioned in regards to the alternatives and way of life of my European counterparts. Interviewing freelancers from France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland gave me a helpful glimpse into the European dance world, which in some ways capabilities fairly in a different way than dance right here in the US. Learn on to search out out extra!

Axelle Chagneau – France

In France, there’s a system referred to as intermittence du spectacle, which acts as a type of assured compensation for staff who don’t qualify for annual or everlasting contracts. Many of those staff are artists. To enter the system, you need to earn a sure variety of cachet yearly, that are every composed of 12 hours. When you attain 43 cachet, or over 500 hours from the best sorts of contracts (some contracts function extra below the desk and don’t earn you cachet), you obtain “employment” by the federal government and are safe for the 12 months. The minimal month-to-month wage in France is round €1,100, and below the intermittence du spectacle, the federal government offers artists €1,300 a month even when they don’t work throughout that month so long as they fulfill their yearly cachet requirement. The federal government primarily fills within the hole of no matter corporations didn’t pay dancers to achieve their minimal wage for that month. Whereas this standing is initially troublesome to entry, it will get simpler after the primary 12 months as a result of dancers are sometimes supplied the identical contracts the next 12 months, and plenty of corporations in France, particularly smaller corporations, are very loyal. (Larger corporations care much less about loyalty and are much less more likely to renew contracts.) Rehearsals solely rely towards cachet if they’re paid, so for some corporations they rely, and for others they don’t. Outdoors the federal government, there’s additionally an affiliation that may assist out with issues like medical insurance in addition to grants to attend workshops and pursue studying both in your discipline or to work towards one other job.

Ballet dancers are sometimes capable of full all their hours in three months as a result of they’re working each day and paid at any time when they work. With up to date dance, then again, you may solely be paid for performances; if in case you have solely three reveals within the 12 months, you technically solely have three cachet. One flaw of the intermittence du spectacle system is that it makes it very troublesome for brand new corporations and choreographers. If an organization needs to pay dancers in cachet, it prices extra for the corporate than paying in cash as a result of it requires a particular license, which is dear. In case you are a dancer in France, you could be in an enormous metropolis for lessons, auditions, and so on. On the finish of the day, all of the dancers are within the large locations –– primarily Paris, but additionally in different main cities like Bordeaux.

There are 15-20 large corporations in France that get some huge cash from the federal government. Due to that, these corporations are required to provide jobs to French individuals. Oftentimes, round 1,000 individuals apply for an audition, 300 get invited, and of these 300, just one will get a spot. These effectively funded corporations are generally required to carry auditions even once they don’t want any new dancers so nobody will get employed from the audition. Tiny corporations have auditions way more typically, and people are those you could hustle for. The smallest, latest corporations typically make use of younger dancers who’re okay with not getting paid. Extra established small corporations are getting their first grants for tiny productions with two to a few dates, and people jobs don’t actually allow you to get in sufficient hours. Then essentially the most profitable small corporations which have gotten just a few years of grants can truly afford a full manufacturing.

Axelle Chagneau is presently dwelling in Bordeaux, and touring so much to make her hours come collectively. Whereas smaller cities pay much less, they typically pay for facilities so bills are decrease. This 12 months, she is working with a number of corporations on the identical time, and he or she attends 10-15 auditions a 12 months. She is in 1) Paris Opera Ballet, an organization she auditioned for and had no earlier relationship with; 2) a cabaret firm, one other job which she secured via an audition; 3) a hip hop firm whose choreographer she knew upfront and who noticed her carry out with one other firm; 4) Opera de Bordeaux; and 5) a up to date firm in Bordeaux whose choreographer can also be her pal. She takes ballet class each day, and if she works so much can generally work to meet three contracts in someday. Though it’s a variety of work, she loves it and claims that that is the great thing about freelance. Chagneau by no means will get bored as a result of she is uncovered to quite a lot of types and inventive concepts. Her contracts often solely cowl a brief time period, and the longer ones final round three months with some type of engagement each day. She says that working with sure larger profile corporations permits her to additionally do work that’s unpaid, and that dancers get into small and medium sized corporations extra typically by networking than by auditions, whereas working for big corporations requires attending extra open calls.

Be aware: Through the COVID lockdown, each dancer was paid for 2 years with out having to construct cachet as a result of they couldn’t work.

Lauriane Nabet – USA

I additionally spoke with Lauriane Nabet, a French dancer who has been primarily based in New York Metropolis for the previous couple of years. She notes just a few variations between French and American freelance tradition.

Lauriane Nabet.
Lauriane Nabet.

“The freelance world of New York has much less of a way of loyalty, and, consequently, you might be all the time hustling, all the time working in your community,” she explains. “In France, you do this extra originally of your profession, however then it will get simpler. There are extra tiny initiatives occurring in New York, although, extra alternatives to construct your CV and a greater variety of issues to do even when most of these issues are unpaid. In France, even while you attend open calls, it typically looks like issues are determined upfront; corporations already know precisely who they wish to rent due to the sturdy community that some dancers and choreographers have. It’s arduous to know the best way to break into that community, and persons are so much much less chatty than they’re in NYC, so no person shares that type of info. I additionally really feel that the NYC group is much less judgemental; in France, it’s extra about becoming within the field, attempting to match the choreographer’s imaginative and prescient precisely, despite the fact that generally (in contrast to in NYC), corporations don’t specify precisely what they’re on the lookout for once they maintain an open name.”

Nabet continues, “France additionally strikes me as way more closed than different nations in Europe. There are a variety of guidelines and laws, which could be troublesome to handle. For instance, dancers who’ve handed the EAT (examen d’aptitude method, which is a observe examination taken whereas pursuing a diplôme d’État, a demanding diploma that isn’t even acknowledged in different nations) are sometimes seen as extra priceless despite the fact that the take a look at is just not straight associated to being an excellent performer. French employers typically place a variety of emphasis on a dancer’s degree of educational research despite the fact that the work is often not tutorial in any respect. I feel it’s because French society seeks consolation in guidelines and ranges, tangible reference factors that give them a way of management. New York doesn’t appear to function with the identical degree of rigidity. At the least that is how I felt 5 years in the past. Perhaps issues have modified since I left, however I do know that NYC’s dance surroundings is a greater match for me and helps me really feel extra free.”

Nabet is presently dancing with 1) Response Dance Firm, a hip hop and Bollywood firm she joined through an open name audition; 2) Lyoness Dance Firm, a cabaret/burlesque firm whose open name somebody referred her to; 3) Borne Dance Firm, a up to date firm she joined through an open name; 4) Reza Farkhondeh, a painter who works with dancers doing improvisatory up to date dance (somebody referred her to take a last-minute spot three days earlier than the present); and several other occasion corporations for gigs like weddings and events.

Giorgia Lolli – Italy

Giorgia Lolli is working as each a dancer and choreographer in Italy and overseas. As a choreographer in Italy, you’ll be able to apply to the federal government’s Ministry of Tradition for funding after being established in a collective or firm for 3 years. (People can’t apply for funding from public funding our bodies straight until they’ve an organization. An alternative choice is to get funded residencies via festivals and manufacturing homes.) It’s important to show that you simply’ve made a sure variety of productions, employed a sure variety of individuals and had a sure variety of performances, they usually calculate how a lot cash you get primarily based on how a lot work you do. Funding is just not merit-based however as an alternative determined by how a lot you produce, which forces individuals to consistently be making new works. There’s additionally a push to make use of younger individuals below 35.

Giorgia Lolli.
Giorgia Lolli.

One perk of the European dance world is that touring between nations is straightforward (though it has been difficult by COVID). That is particularly the case for nations in central Europe like Germany and Italy, and fewer true for northern European nations like Finland. One of the best cities to be located in are Amsterdam, Berlin, and London (though it’s a bit harder with Brexit since you now want a Visa), nevertheless it’s additionally attainable to stay outdoors large cities due to how straightforward it’s to journey. Moreover, lots of the finest dance faculties are European so there are ample alternatives to check below nice lecturers and choreographers. Bachelor’s levels and postgraduate efficiency corporations provide many useful skilled connections.

“Freelance dancers are just about on the backside of the pyramid,” Lolli says. “As a dancer, I used to attend a variety of auditions listed on large web sites like Dancing Alternatives and au-di-tions.com. This tactic didn’t work as a result of I didn’t know the work of the individuals I wished to work with. I’ve since modified instructions as a result of I don’t suppose attending these auditions are sustainable for the surroundings or for my psychological, bodily and emotional well being. Now, I work on getting jobs via connections, sending direct emails and so forth. The scene in Italy could be very conceptual, and the artist is seen as an mental, however I choose extra physique work and physicality on stage. It was that you simply needed to go to sure locations in Europe for particular forms of work, however now issues are extra fluid and unfold out all over the place. International locations like Germany, Switzerland, and Finland have extra money, whereas Italy, Spain, and Portugal are extra just like the underdogs of dance.”

Lolli continues, “In Italy, you get extra ‘factors’ within the Ministry rating when you carry out in locations the place there are much less cultural alternatives (like Sicily, for instance). Every area has its personal regional community, and by getting in contact with these networks, you possibly can achieve efficiency alternatives. I obtained into the nationwide community this 12 months, which provides a wage of €50 a day after taxes for rehearsal and efficiency days. Artists are assured minimal wage whereas working and can even apply for personal foundations and different funding. Web sites like On the Transfer provide fellowships for makers and mobility grants, and there are additionally competitions that assist artists achieve extra visibility and are barely extra industrial. These are useful if you wish to be a repertoire choreographer.”

Mareike Jung – Germany

How do you discover the dance and humanities scene in Berlin? Is it extremely aggressive, or is there sufficient work to go round?

“I’ve been dwelling in Berlin for 11 years, and doing my bodily theater schooling right here helped so much. It gave me a place to begin to get into the dance scene, and having a background considerably outdoors of dance has labored in my favor as a novel promoting level. Berlin’s impartial scene is extremely various, and I respect the unstated expectation for inventive works to cope with socio-critical subjects. The dance scene is tremendous aggressive, and assembly dance colleagues who introduced me into it was instrumental. In Berlin, you not solely must be a tough employee, however you could be keen to get to know individuals so you can begin getting direct suggestions. To attain success within the discipline, you could work with recognized artists or large theaters or simply get very fortunate. In the event you apply for funding, you may apply 30 occasions earlier than your utility is profitable. When you get your first funding alternative, nonetheless, you can begin to usher in bigger grants, and it’s a lot simpler to earn cash as soon as you might be established. So many dancers transfer to Berlin and are misplaced for years as a result of there are many nice dancers right here. Salaries are low for dancers as a result of if somebody says no to low pay, there might be 50 others who will do the job free of charge.”

Do you attend auditions?

Mareike Jung.
Mareike Jung.

“I don’t go to auditions. I don’t really feel comfy with the elbow-each-other perspective and the necessity to show myself in a single hour. I’ve gone to some auditions for enjoyable and to learn the way they’re functioning, however I actually don’t like them. For my job with the Philharmonie, somebody advisable me after which I used to be invited to a customized audition, after which I obtained the job. Due to that job, I obtained a advice to educate the primary actress of a film (by an award-winning director) in dance. I do know individuals who go for therefore many extra auditions than me and get a lot much less. In my profession, I’ve been lucky to have taken some necessary steps on greater phases, which makes my portfolio look skilled and helps my probabilities at securing extra jobs.”

How does the artistic course of typically operate for you?

“I’ve had excellent experiences with project-based work that happens inside a restricted time-frame. For my current solo work, I had a block of two weeks and a block of three weeks for rehearsals. After all, I used to be considering in between, however what works effectively for me and what I see right here within the scene is intensive time intervals of working each day that allow you to delve additional into the analysis. The frustration is much less since you’re actually in it and concerned. Additionally it is simpler in your schedule as a result of you possibly can plan round the entire thing upfront reasonably than having to take time right here and there to create your work.”

Are you able to discuss somewhat bit in regards to the overlaps between dance and bodily theater?

“My ‘bodily phantasm’ firm, inback, is regular earnings for me and pays all year long, nevertheless it additionally entails a variety of unpaid work. Once you actually break it down, it’s little or no pay per hour. Proper now, it makes up a 3rd of my yearly earnings; I might push it extra by touring extra typically, however that isn’t what I need. I’ve discovered so much from working my firm about issues like consumer communications, technical riders, manufacturing and what’s essential to look skilled, and what I’ve discovered via inback interprets into the dance scene. As a freelancer, I fill many alternative roles; generally I carry out and choreograph, generally I’m a choreographic assistant, and generally I direct and work with a dramaturg. I’ve executed some industrial work previously, however I’m now working primarily within the freelance scene.”

Is it straightforward to journey and work throughout Europe? What about outdoors the EU?

“I’ve toured extensively with inback; we virtually by no means carry out in Berlin as a result of the market is oversaturated and so many individuals are keen to carry out free of charge. I produce my work in Berlin after which take it on tour, and it’s attainable to search out festivals in locations just like the Netherlands and China. Touring round Europe by automotive or prepare is straightforward and taxes and Visas are additionally made easy by being a member of the EU. It’s more durable to journey with a full size present that comes with a variety of props and set items as a result of then you definately want a theater and a technician. Often, we tour items which are round 20 minutes lengthy, and we carry out them round thrice per competition.”

Is there any authorities assist for freelance artists in Germany?

“Künstlersozialkasse or KSK is a social insurance coverage fund for artists. You begin by calculating what you’ll earn for the 12 months within the arts. In the event you say, for instance, ‘I’ll earn $15,000 this 12 months,’ then KSK will calculate how a lot you could pay in each month. It could be one thing like €100. Then they pay your medical insurance, which might often price way more than that. Once you retire in addition they provide you with cash for retirement and different advantages as if you had a ‘regular job.’ The extra you produce your personal artwork, the extra funding you might be eligible for. In the event you get one funding alternative, then you definately usually tend to get the subsequent. Doing your personal work additionally makes it extra probably that you simply’ll get to work with different individuals.

Here’s a breakdown of presidency funding that I discovered on-line: ‘The Senate’s cultural administration helps Berlin’s cultural panorama with round 600 million euros (as of 2020) per 12 months. About 95 p.c of the price range goes to over 70 completely institutionally funded cultural establishments. Round 5 p.c is spent on particular person and venture funding.’ Whereas cultural funding might be distributed extra pretty and there are different points with the humanities scene in Berlin, I feel that, general, German artists are fortunate as a result of there are numerous alternatives when put next with different nations.”

Léna Bagutti – Switzerland

What’s it wish to be a freelancer in Switzerland? Is there any authorities assist?

“Sadly, in Switzerland, we nonetheless don’t have the ‘artist standing’ like in Belgium or France. Half of the individuals I do know who work within the arts are freelancers whereas the opposite half are unemployed, which implies that once they don’t have work, they obtain assist from the federal government. This provides a way of safety for certain, which freelancers don’t have, however our standing as artists is just not formally acknowledged, so we have now to be registered for ‘regular’ unemployment, which isn’t actually tailored to an artist’s way of life.

There are a lot of simply accessible associations for up to date dance in Switzerland that present a variety of info to artists and might direct you if in case you have questions on contracts, freelancing or constructing your personal firm, which could be very useful. As a result of Switzerland is just not filled with individuals in the identical method that many different nations are, there’s loads of room to make your personal initiatives and if you already know the place to search out cash, there’s cash out there. It doesn’t rain from the sky, however when you learn to current your work and who to ask for assist, then you could find cash. It’s a full-time job, although, and takes up time that might in any other case be spent within the studio.”

How do you get most of your jobs? Do you attend auditions or is it extra about networking?

“I feel I can say that, typically, it’s extra about networking. After all, it takes a variety of effort to construct your community, and going to auditions is one a part of that course of. I’ve utilized for auditions and gotten a few of my jobs that method, however as soon as your community is constructed and also you’ve already been employed for some jobs, they have an inclination to current themselves to you way more simply. Folks name you again or they advocate you to somebody. I’ve the impression that the large combat to enter into the skilled dance world is originally of your profession.

Léna Bagutti.
Léna Bagutti.

I nonetheless attend auditions, even whether it is generally a irritating expertise. However I feel it’s necessary to see the audition not solely as a course of the place choreographers choose dancers, but additionally as a method to get to know one other strategy to motion and to judge whether or not you wish to work with that choreographer or not. Additionally it is a method of studying extra about what you might be looking for as a dancer, and a great way to fulfill individuals. I typically run into colleagues I met throughout my years of schooling, and I take pleasure in these encounters. Whereas I can’t say that I take pleasure in auditions themselves, they assist me to take care of a sure dynamic with myself and throw me out of my consolation zone. In addition they encourage me to find out about new corporations.”

What are most of your contracts like? Do initiatives typically final a brief or very long time?

“It is determined by the character of the job. Typically, if it’s a creation course of adopted by a premiere in a theater, it lasts 5 to 6 weeks. Then there are possibly three dates of performances, and if different theaters purchase the present, it may be adopted by a tour. I’ve observed that the reveals which are capable of tour after the premiere are those that may be carried out elsewhere and settings and for various audiences. For instance, on the street, possibly in a shorter format, or reveals that have been imagined to be carried out in varied places like museums or night time golf equipment. There are such a lot of prospects.

I feel six weeks of creation is definitely a really quick time to enter a deep course of of labor, particularly if the group of performers/dancers are assembly for the primary time. When time is proscribed, the tendency is to take a secure path that can result in a safe last product, and I personally suppose that this isn’t a lot of a creation course of. I do suppose deadlines are necessary and helpful, nevertheless it’s a pity in the event that they don’t can help you actually dive into the surprises that creativity can carry. The issue is that corporations don’t obtain sufficient subsidies to pay everyone for an extended time period. 

That is how the everyday contract works, however I’ve had different jobs that have been even shorter. 5 days. Eight days. For one venture, we met one weekend monthly over the course of a 12 months. The reality is that there are not any guidelines for the right creation course of, and generally not having sufficient time can result in superb encounters. I had a job for 5 days in Zürich with a Brussels-based Italian choreographer, and the expertise was superb as a result of the group understood one another in a short time.”

By Charly Santagado of Dance Informa. 



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