If you are a dance instructor, newbie or more experienced, wanting to start teaching at bigger events and festivals and have a ton of questions about how to navigate working with different organizers and fellow artists, this blog is for you!
Over the past 7 years as a dancepreneur primarily in the kizomba/urban kiz scene, I have been in A LOT of different “dance roles”. From instructor, DJ, taxi dancer, volunteer, promoter, to organizer of many weekenders to a 500+ attendee international festival, I have experienced lots of different scenarios and went through lots of hard lessons learned. I have taught in many different settings from tons of private lessons, to weekly classes, focus groups, intensives, pre-social classes, weekenders, and international festivals. Teaching is literally one of the things that makes me feel the most alive, I fucking love to teach.
The path of a full-time dancepreneur has been tough, but I would do it all over again (minus hard knocks and unnecessary drama LOL). I’m super grateful for how the past 7 years have shaped me into who I am today, and my hope with this blog is to help any aspiring and/or current instructor in any dance scene have a bit more context when it comes to getting booked at festivals. Even though this blog is directed towards the artists, I feel dance event organizers can also take away some value from the list of things below, and I will be creating another list like this for organizers and for attendees.
Disclaimer! These questions are not exhaustive by any means, your experience as an artist or dance organizer may totally have a different perspective and that’s completely fine. If any of these questions below resonate with you, consider them, for the questions that don’t, feel free to ignore them. Feel free to take what’s useful and throw away what isn’t and adapt to your own own personal dance journey!
- Is accommodation included in you being hired to teach at the event?
- Where will you be sleeping?
- What size bed will you be sleeping in?
- Will you have privacy?
- Will any other artists be sleeping in the same room or same bed as you?
- Is not having your own room and/or bed to sleep in a deal-breaker?
- What nights will accommodation be provided during your stay for the event?
- Will you need to spend any nights before or after the event in a different place that the main venue?
- Is where you are teaching and where you are sleeping in the same place?
- If not at the same location, who will be responsible to transport you to the venue on time?
- Is your name on the hotel reservation?
- Will you have to put a credit card on file for your room?
- If you are teaching at a hotel, what time is check in and check out?
- What meals will be provided, at what time, for which days of your stay?
- If no meals are provided will there be a meal allowance provided?
- Will there be any drinks or snacks available during the day?
- Will a plate be put aside for you if you happen to be teaching when a meal first arrives?
- If you have any dietary restrictions and/or preferences, will the organization cater to those or will you need to manage your meals?
Income & Expenses
- What is your overall goal with your income and expenses?
- What is your standard teaching rate per hour of instruction?
- For smaller events, are you willing to do a profit split with the organizer versus a flat rate?
- Are you able/willing to pay any of your expenses for an opportunity to teach?
- Are you needing/wanting to come back home income positive or are you alright with just breaking even or not coming out of pocket?
- What other skills can you be hired for to add more value to the event?
- What is your preferred method of payment?
- When will payments be handed out to the artists?
- What expenses are not covered by the event?
- Have you signed an agreement with the festival organization for your total rate?
- If you are teaching internationally, what currency will you be paid in?
- What are the expectations of the organization of your promo as an artist?
- Are you selling passes to help offset some of your expenses?
- Is there any commission given if you were to promote a discount code?
- What promo material will be provided to you?
- Do you have videos and demos ready for the event to promote you?
- Do you have professional hi-res photos of you with the background removed?
- Are there any situations where your payment could be deducted?
- Who is responsible for purchasing the flights?
- When will the flights be purchased?
- Will you fly with a checked bag or carry on?
- Are checked bags included in your covered expenses?
- What travel preferences do you have? Preferred airport? Max # of connections? Max # of hours for a layover? Window or aisle?
- Who will be responsible for picking you up and dropping you off from the airport? Can you be put into communication with them before your flight?
- Is there a plan in case there is a major delay and/or missed flight?
- What skills levels do your classes need to be?
- Are you teaching with a dance partner? collaborating with another hired artist? or plan to have an assistant?
- Is your teaching partner getting compensated fairly?
- If far enough in advance, can you negotiate getting your teaching partner’s flight, hotel, food, and pass covered to at least prevent them from coming out of pocket in exchange for teaching with you?
- Have you planned out and practiced the material of the classes enough with your partner so you both are confident and on the same page during class?
- Is your teaching partner aware of your teaching style and vice versa?
- Will you do an end of class demo? If so, to what song?
- Have you talked to a friend who is willing and help you record your lesson break down and demo at the end of your classes?
- What questions can you expect to be asked in your class(es) from both roles?
- Is equal attention and value being given to the technique to the followers role in your class(es)?
- Is the festival organization offering different tracks for different skill levels?
- Are you teaching anything similar to any of the other instructors?
- Where will you be teaching?
- What times will you be teaching?
- How do your scheduled teaching times line up with the scheduled meal times?
- How big is the room you will be teaching in?
- What kind of flooring will be present?
- What kind of sound system will be available?
- Will there be microphones for the instructors?
- Will there be time reminders during the class?
- How soon do you need to turn in the names of your classes?
- Do you have any say on what days or times you would like to teach?
- Will there be a videographer/photographer present during your classes?
- Are there spaces available for the artists to practice and teach private lessons?
- If there aren’t any dedicated spaces for private lessons, have you scouted out some places where you could potentially teach private lessons?
- How many private lessons do you want to teach ideally at the event?
- Have you promoted yourself to book some private lessons in advance?
- Did you provide a way to have students who want private lessons a way to pay you in advance to at least confirm a timeslot to avoid no shows?
- How many hours of social dancing with the attendees is expected of you each night of the event?
- Will drinks or snacks be provided for artists during social hours?
- How many social dancing rooms will be available at the event?
- How early do the socials start?
- How late do the socials go?
- Are there any social dancing opportunities during the day?
- How do you plan to contribute to the success of the event for yourself, the organization, and the attendees?
- What is your current relationship with the organizer and their team?
- How will you create a good professional mutually beneficial relationship with the organizer to potentially get booked in the future?
- Have you created a personal schedule for yourself that includes your arrival and departure flight times, your classes, your private lessons, and any other time commitments?
- Will there be a main artist chat where information about meals and such will be shared?
- Is there a main point of contact for the artist care that is not the organizer?
- Are there any extracurricular activities unique to this event that you are expected to be present at?
- Are there any other instructors, students, or friends in this city that you want to make time to see while you are in town?
- Are there any places you want to see while you are in town?
- Did any of the event staff, attendees, or other artists make a positive impact on your time at the event that deserve a shoutout in your post-event thank you post?
I have a ton of respect for dance instructors, organizers, artists, volunteers, promoters who I have witnessed sacrifice so much of their time and energy into trying to create the best dance events they can over the years for our global dance community. Hopefully, these questions will help you all navigate your professional dance career with more intention, clarity, and less stress. Every artist values different things and dance events each have their own vision and they definitely have budgets track to avoid losses. So every question above is an opportunity for negotiation when it comes to getting booked.
Ideally at any dance event, I feel the goal should be to create a win/win/win for the organizing staff, the artists, and the attendees. Again, to reiterate, your experience may vary. My last piece of advice is to remember that festival bookings DO NOT determine your worth as an artist, instructor, performer, etc. If you have any questions or thoughts you would like to send me feel free to contact me via the form here or via email. For the record, I don’t do any free consultations. If you found value in this list please consider buying me a coffee with the button below to continue to support intellectual dance content like this and/or consider joining my Intellectual Dancer Newsletter if you aren’t a part of it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this until the end.