Today’s blog post brought to you by: multiple conversations with other instructors and organizers. I have over 10 years of Dance Event organizing and Teaching. Hopefully this can help both parties see the other side!
Things to consider when choosing instructors for your festival:
Is your event a party weekend? Is it competitions focus? Is it beginner focused? Make sure the people you are bringing on board match the energy you want. Many people can fall into multiple categories, but not everyone is everything, and not everyone is a good fit.
What do you want them to do (i.e., teach, social dance, perform): If you want quality classes, hire and pay quality teachers. If you want someone to come and make it to all the social dances and dance with everyone, hire and pay someone to do that. If you want someone to do performances, hire and pay someone to do that. Understand that social dancing for 8 hours until 5 am makes it REALLY hard to teach quality classes at 10am. If you want someone who is an amazing performer, pay them to come and perform, but don’t hire them to teach if they aren’t a good teacher.
Running events is hard. Working full time or part time as a dance instructor is hard. Figuring out how much to charge/how much to pay is weird and uncomfortable for many people. Some things to remember: Most instructors are ALREADY discounting their rates. They aren’t charging you for travel time, or class prep, social dancing or all the money they put into their own training. Their hourly rates (or even their small fees for judging or performing) may seem high to your first glance, but on top of everything they are already doing outside of those hours, they also have to pay their insurance, their taxes, and for their business expenses. Don’t compare their rates to other instructors! Teachers use their peers rates as a guideline, but everyone has a different home situation. Someone who lives in Sofia has a much different monthly income need than someone living in London. People with two person household incomes may need less than someone with one. Someone living in a country with socialized healthcare/retirement may need less than someone living somewhere without. Or maybe some has a harder time feeling comfortable asking for more because they have a full-time job, and want to offer a lower rate because it is only a hobby for them. There are SO MANY things that go into setting rates. Avoid asking for discounts, but maybe if you really need it, be up front about you budget and ask if someone can work within that. EVERY organizer is a friend, and every event wants a discount. But people have to make a living too. If you think someone isn’t charging enough, tell them!
Make sure you add to your budget (or your requirements if you are a teacher) things like:
Meals – Yes, that expensive airport meal on their way home should be covered, because otherwise they would be at home eating their less expensive groceries
Transportation – Their PREFERRED airline. Plus costs to/from the airport
Judging – Prelims and finals count as two separate contests
Performances – Everything from full length social demos to choreographed shows
Level Testing – Wether it is 15 mins or 3 hrs it is still TIME and ENERGY
Rooming – Shared room, hosting, own space. Someone is NOT difficult because they want their own space/real bed
Not every teacher is the same. Some are really great with beginners, some with advanced, some weekly classes and some workshops only. Are all your teachers top quality? Do they need to be? Maybe you support up coming teachers who are continuing to hone their craft or maybe your festival is only the best of the best. How do these choices affect your attendees?
Are you hiring someone who uses their own content or just copy and pastes from someone else classes or youtube videos? Have they done research and learning into the subject? Are they prepared for their classes? Do they adjust to the group level? Is their material applicable and useful?
Are they your friends? Did you see them win a contest? You saw “Insert Big Festival Here” hired them so you assumed they must be good? They have great feedback on their classes at other festivals? You researched their backgrounds? They put in time and energy to the scene? They care about things like the words they use in classes, creating better classroom learning spaces, working on being a better teacher? They actively work on breaking down the barriers of gendered dance roles? They work on recognizing the history and continued dismissal of POC? They exude personality qualities you want to see reenforced? They are great at socializing? They are a “big name draw”? Someone got really good really fast, you could hire them OR whoever they learned from. Someone just won a contest, you could hire them OR whoever they learned from. Look at who is judging contests, not only in them. Go to classes and hire the people you like, not just the names you see on flyers. There are a lot of reasons for hiring someone, make sure you know yours and if it is a good reason.
Some Other Things to Ponder –
Hire same sex couples. Hire women. Hire POC. Hire non-binary people. Hire LGBTQIA+ people. Be excited about these choices. Promote your festival, talk to individuals, and share how you feel about these people. Don’t rely on flyers to talk up and explain your choices, do it face to face.
Do they need a child care provider? Provide one. Do they have a friend or significant other who wants to attend? Offer them a guest pass. Make sure they have down time. Not everyone wants to share every meal. Do they need a travel guide, or a translator. Make sure you are taking care of their needs, instead of complaining about them.
Hire followers without leaders if you are willing to hire leaders without followers. If a couple can’t both attend, hire one of them with someone else (yes, the classes will still be good). Hire headliners with up comers. Hire individuals not couples. Don’t expect everyone to be ok teaching with anyone. Treat follower instructors as equally important to leaders.