The union for Australia’s freelance dancers, working towards fair pay, safe work, and respect.

GET INVOLVED

WHO IS DANCERS AUSTRALIA?

Dancers Australia is the union for professional freelance dance workers in Australia.It is led by the Dancers Australia National Committee - a group of committed dancers and choreographers from across the country who are pushing for fair wages and safe workplaces for all dance professionals.Dancers Australia is part of the Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA) - the national union of Australia's creative professionals.

Your Dancers Australia National Committee is:


CAMPAIGNS

Dancers Australia is currently running the national #PayTheDancers campaign.

Professional dancers, choreographers, dance teachers, movement directors, and other dance industry professionals are pushing back against low pay and unsafe workplaces.The #PayTheDancers campaign asks industry professionals to sign up to the Dancers Australia Code of Practice, which sets the minimum rates of pay and minimum workplace conditions that all dancers should be given.

MEMBERSHIP

Dancers Australia have a special MEAA Membership Fee

$7.74 per week

All fees are 100% tax-deductible.

See what's included:

ADVOCACY

As a registered trade union under Commonwealth and State law, Dancers Australia has many unique powers, duties, and services for the benefit of its members. We do this by enforcing the Dance Industry Code of Practice.

We also employ industrial and legal experts who can:

  • Review your contracts to recommend changes, and advise on unfair clauses

  • Provide templates for contracts that you can use for stage, film, television, commercials, SVOD, social media, and more

  • Enforce your contract including when that involves tribunal or legal proceedings

  • Act on your behalf in pay disputes, disciplinary meetings, terminations, resignations, and redundancies

  • Investigate breaches of the Fair Work Act, state WHS Acts, the Awards, and any Agreements, including a Right of Entry to your workplace

  • Negotiate on your behalf where dancers wish to bargain collectively for better pay or conditions

INSURANCE

Dancers Australia has secured a Dancers Liability insurance package just for members, that includes Public Liability and Products Liability cover.

This insurance is free as part of your membership.

Why do Dancers need this cover?

Most dancers currently arrange their own insurance each year, either through a broker or with a direct insurer.This is due to an increasing demand, from venues and promotors, that dancers bring their own Public Liability and Products Liability insurance before allowing them on site to perform or teach.

What does Dancers Liability insurance cover?

Public and Products Liability Insurance covers a dancer's legal obligation to pay compensation when personal injury or property damage occurs.The insurance covers a range of approved dance styles and activities.

Download more info:

DEVELOPMENT

As part of the MEAA Equity Section, Dancers Australia members have access to professional development opportunities through The Equity Foundation.The Equity Foundation hosts over 120 professional development events each year, including workshops and masterclasses with internationally renowned artists, casting directors, coaches, producers, and other industry leaders.These are free of charge, and open only to members.Visit equityfoundation.org.au to view all programs.

THE CODE:
RATES AND CONDITIONS

Dancers Australia have established a set of minimum rates for professional dance work in live and screen performances.Note: These rates do not apply to high-end commercial productions, such as touring musicals, big budget film/TV, or large corporate advertising. If in doubt, contact us.

WHAT ABOUT REHEARSALS?

Rehearsals are a massive part of the performance process, so we've put together some easy-to-read graphics on what you should be paid for them, and when. Share them on social media!The Dance Industry Code of Practice sets a minimum 2 hour call for rehearsals, which should be paid at the minimum rate of $45 per hour. Each hour after that is also $45, and should always be rounded up.All rehearsals should be paid, as they are time worked. This includes dress rehearsals, tech rehearsals, blocking, run throughs, hair, makeup, and fittings.If you are asked to do fittings outside of your usual rehearsal period, this should be paid at $50 per hour.Finally - you have the right to say 'No' to unreasonable rehearsals, especially when they are too long, at unusual or unsociable hours, or would otherwise negatively impact your out-of-work life.If a rehearsal gets extended past the time you initially agreed, you should be paid at a higher overtime rate.

LIVE PERFORMANCE

BARS, PUBS, CLUBS, FESTIVALS, FAIRS, FETES, AND OTHER LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

LevelExperienceGeneral skills1Specialist skills2Hourly rateWeekly rate
1Under 1 yearBasicBasic$74.88$1,327.66
2Over 1 yearIntermediateBasic$76.96$1,366.56
3Over 2 yearsIntermediateIntermediate$80.08$1,404.73
4Over 3 yearsAdvancedIntermediate$82.16$1,440.92
5Over 4 yearsAdvancedAdvanced$85.28$1,480.54
6Over 6 yearsSignificantly advancedAdvanced$88.40$1,524.95
7Over 8 yearsSignificantly advancedSignificantly advanced$92.56$1,577.47

1 General skills are the foundational skills needed to dance, such as flexibility, coordination, stamina, rhythm and musicality, your ability to learn choreography, or your ability to perform in front of an audience.2 Specialist skills are the technical skills needed for different types of dance, or additional skills that enhance your craft. These could be special techniques used for your style, your ability to create or improvise choreography, or combining dance with other skills, such as acting, singing, or DJing.

SCREEN PERFORMANCE

MUSIC VIDEOS, TRAINING AND CORPORATE, DIGITAL PLATFORMS AND OTHER SCREEN ENTERTANMENT

LevelExperienceGeneral skills1Specialist skills2Hourly rateWeekly rate
1Under 1 yearBasicBasic$46.80$1,327.66
2Over 1 yearIntermediateBasic$47.84$1,366.56
3Over 2 yearsIntermediateIntermediate$48.88$1,404.73
4Over 3 yearsAdvancedIntermediate$52.00$1,440.92
5Over 4 yearsAdvancedAdvanced$54.08$1,480.54
6Over 6 yearsSignificantly advancedAdvanced$56.16$1,524.95
7Over 8 yearsSignificantly advancedSignificantly advanced$58.24$1,577.47

1 General skills are the foundational skills needed to dance, such as flexibility, coordination, stamina, rhythm and musicality, your ability to learn choreography, or your ability to perform in front of an audience.2 Specialist skills are the technical skills needed for different types of dance, or additional skills that enhance your craft. These could be special techniques used for your style, your ability to create or improvise choreography, or combining dance with other skills, such as acting, singing, or DJing.

CHOREOGRAPHY

We break choreography up into two payments:

the Choreographer Rate for teaching and rehearsing a piece of work, and

the Choreography Fee for developing the piece of work.
Depending on the actual work being undertaken, you may be paid one or both of these payments.

Choreographer Rate

Up to 12 hours of rehearsals$46.08 per hour
Over 12 hours of rehearsalsWeekly Rate*

* the Weekly Rates are set out in the full Code of Practice


Choreography Fee

First 3 minutesRate per minute (below)
Each minute after that50% of the rate per minute
LevelDescriptionRate Per Minute
BeginnerBeginners, children, community dance classes, non-commercial enterprises$78
BasicEntry-level dancers, final-year students, inexperienced partnering or group work$130
IntermediateGeneral use by professional dancers (commercial and non-commercial)$156
AdvancedCommercial use, mid-tier productions, and experienced partnering of group work$182
SpecialistCommercial use, high-tier productions, and experienced partnerting or group work$208

ALLOWANCES

TypeAmountWhen?
Meal$32.24per meal when travelling, unless meals are provided
Accommodation$197.60per night when travelling, unless accommodation is provided
Costume$62.40per costume where the dancer supplies their own costume
Shoe$46.80per pair of shoes where the dancer supplies their own pair of shoes
Fittings$52.00per hour when fittings are undertaken outside rehearsal time
Make-up$12.48per performance when required to supply or apply specialised makeup
Hair$37.44per performance where the dancer is required to have a specialised hair style
Nudity$27.04per performance where the dancer is required to be nude or semi-nude
Understudy – major$106.08per performance for major roles (eg. soloist or featured)
Understudy – minor$23.92per performance for all other roles
Use of own vehicle$0.95per kilometre when requested to use own vehicle for work duties

MINIMUM WORKPLACE CONDITIONS

1ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
2ZERO TOLERANCE for ‘blacklisting’ - the practice of cancelling / reducing work, or threatening to do so, if you speak up about pay, conditions, or safety.
3CHANGEROOMS must be provided on every job. They must be private, separated by gender identity, hygienic, and temperature controlled.
4BREAKS must be given. For every 5 hours worked, a dancer must get a 30-minute break.
5FLOORS must be appropriate for dance. Unless previously agreed, they must not be concrete, stone, sand, or rock; they must be stable and level; and they must be free of any liquid.
6USAGE RIGHTS, including use of your image, video footage, and use of your personal social media for marketing, must always be agreed in writing, and must always be paid.
7INJURY must be dealt with immediately.
8TURNAROUND breaks of at least 10 hours must be given between call times of 4-hours or longer.

FAQs

You are paid for a minimum of 3 hours if the set number of acts all happen within those 3 hours. It doesn't matter if you aren't dancing the entire time. Costume, make up, warm up, cool down, and breaks are also part of the three hours.
Our rates apply across the dance industry, and we don't exclude any particular style or genre.

This means that we DO expect the rates and conditions in our Code to be enforced in the traditional styles of dance - such as classical, Latin, and contemporary - but also in more non-traditional areas - such as street styles, aerial and silk performers, cabaret, burlesque, and many more.

However, it is important to note that some of the larger dance companies - like the Sydney Dance Company or the Australian Ballet - have their own agreements, that provide for higher rates, and better conditions. If in doubt, contact us.
There is no break requirement under the Code for gigs of less that 5 hours, however we would suggest that best practice would be to give one 15 minute rest / refreshment break, at a time that is convenient to the Employer.

It is conceivable that, where a gig is especially physically demanding, the above best practice could become a requirement under WHS law, and the Union would have a duty to enforce that.
The intention of the Costume Allowance is for performers to be compensated when they are expected to purchase their own specialised costume, outside of what would regularly be required, or outside of what the performer would be reasonably expected to already own.

For example, a male-identifying dancer may be expected to bring their staple items of a white shirt, black shirt, black dress pants and black jazz shoes with the rest of the costume provided by the Employer. The dancer would not be compensated for these items.
There is no hard line between our categories, due to the many venues, funding arrangements, and genres across the industry. It will by and large be a case-by-case decision on where something lands.

Some indicators for intermediate choreography would be:

  • in a venue housing up to 100 sitting audience members;
  • where corporate or government money do not make up the majority of funding;
  • the performers may include professionals and non-professionals (ie. does not necessarily need to be a professional dancer in order to learn the choreography);
  • where non-professionals are engaged, these will usually be pre-professional performers, such as students in a dance course; who have a good technical grounding in some dance skills;
  • anything billed as pro-am would not go above this rate;
  • basic roving work would usually not go above this rate unless specific skills were incorporated (any acrobatics, props, etc.);
  • private events/functions (eg. weddings, parties, etc.) would usually not go above this rate unless they were very high budget, or included acts that had highly specialised skills.


Some indicators for advanced choreography would be:

  • in a venue housing up to 250 sitting audience members;
  • where corporate/government money makes up 50% of the funding;
  • that are intended for public consumption, whether that be a fee-paying public audience, or a public audience at a larger event (such as a festival/fete);
  • the performers will always be professionals under the definitions in the Code (ie. they will need to have demonstrable professional skills in dance to undertake the choreography).


At times, it is also helpful to define these categories ‘by exclusion’; ie.

  • “a production at a small performance space is not top-tier as there are less than 250 seats, so would therefore be advanced”;
  • “a wedding performance is not a production for a fee-paying public audience, therefore it is intermediate”;
  • “a roving or crowd piece is not for a fee paying audience, therefore it is intermediate”.


Yes. When a perform is required to travel to somewhere other than their usual place of work, that travel time must be paid

If the performer travels directly from their place of residence to the venue, the entire time would be paid as time worked; if the performer travelled to the Employer’s place of business and then was taken to the venue, then the time from the Employer’s place of business to the venue would be paid.

We would generally expect this travel time to be paid at the rehearsal rate.
The tech rehearsal must be paid a minimum of $46.08 per hour, for a minimum rehearsal call of two hours.

You would then be paid your appropriate hourly performance rate, for a minimum call of three hours.
When the Live Performance Award was written, it had in mind dancers that worked in very traditional employment arrangements - performing and teaching at the larger dance companies, usually on a full-time basis. These were called 'Company Dancers'.

We now know that the workplaces dancers experience are incredibly varied, especially for freelance dancers. We also know that dancers are very often having to choreograph their work, something that was not included in the Live Performance Award.

Our Code takes the wages and conditions from the Live Performance Award, and puts them in words that are understandable. We have included only the allowances and penalty rates that apply to dancers, and - by consulting with the industry - have created clear descriptions for each Dancer Level, based on experience and skill.

To ensure our Code is relevant to a variety of work, we have also used the 'Broadcasting' Award, which sets out the pay and conditions for performers on screen.

And finally, we have created a set of Choreography rates, based on the industry standard.
Dancers Australia's advice to members is that the Fitness Industry Award does not cover professional dancers, and it is unlawful to employ professional dancers under that Award.

Companies, hirers, and schools that rely on the Fitness Industry Award are very likely underpaying their dance professionals, and not complying with the Fair Work Act.

If you are a member and your contract mentions the Fitness Industry Award we suggest that you contact us immediately.

For more information or to get involved please contact us at dancers@meaa.org or use the form below:

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