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Dancing Teamsters

Dancers have to be flexible. Legally flexible. For all my lauding of the CADA contract, it actually holds little weight…

By Melanie Kuxdorf , in Blogs Struggle and Strife: A Dancer's Life , on February 6, 2008

Dancers have to be flexible. Legally flexible.

For all my lauding of the CADA contract, it actually holds little weight since no one is obliged to use it. Separate contracts are drafted, disregarding CADA standards. But it doesn’t seem to matter what contract you sign. Even as dancers lay down their signatures, the choreographer says, “This may change.” Ahem, does that not defeat the very purpose of having a contract?

Choreographers hold authority and no matter how much they want to be down-to-earth and friendish, it’s a power relationship. The dancers are the employees in a job where you can’t complain because you’ll compromise capital “A” Art for God’s sake.

Choreographer: “Hey guys, is it okay if we run through the piece tonight after notes?”

Translation: “We will run through the piece tonight again after 45 minutes of notes. It will take longer than I anticipate.”

Dancer: “Um, okay.”

Translation: “My feet are bleeding and I’ve got bronchitis and don’t we have a 9am rehearsal tomorrow?”

If you’ve got a problem with something, you become the problem.

CADA’s been the only authority dancers really have, and it’s really too bad if that’s not worth anything.

I love CADA, but they are small (the BC Chapter is run by one person), new (contract was drafted in 2001), and trying to represent the rights of the most maligned, underpaid and female-dominated art in Canada. Good luck.

Cue Actor’s Equity.

As of today, Feb. 5th, the Canadian Actor’s Equity Association has extended its arms to dancers through the brand new, Canadian Dance Policy. This means that dancers can join Actor’s Equity – the actor’s union – and receive the protection of that established organization.The Women of Equity - Actor's Strike, 1919


Compare this new contract to the CADA contract, you’ll see that in essentials, they are the same. I can only hope that:

a) the two-tiered equity/non-equity situation of the acting world isn’t so bad

b) that there is enough incentive to become a member

c) union dues aren’t too high

and most importantly:

d) that this will actually become an effective tool in protecting and empowering dancers, not just another contract to casually skirt

p.s. Here’s a Teamster who’s familiar with hurry up and wait.


  • Hm. I’m not familiar enough with the equity union to know what that means for me as a dancer. Will have to do some research asap.

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