Facilitated by Emily Hansel and funded in part by the San Francisco Arts Commission

Community Study Halls for dancers and choreographers

I recently got funding from the SF Arts Commission (woohoo!) to host this series of six Community Study Halls that will bring dancers and choreographers/directors together in discussion about cultivating healthy, equitable, and ethical workplaces in our contemporary dance field. The series will also function as source material for the creative development of a new choreographic work that I’m creating with dancer-collaborators Rebecca Fitton, Audrey Johnson, Jocelyn Reyes, and Erin Yen, which will premiere May 16-18, 2024.

My goal is for the Study Halls to be a place where people who hire dancers and people who are hired as dancers (or maybe you're both, like me!) can speak about the equitable hiring practices and working conditions they desire and how to make them a reality. We'll do some dreaming and will also focus on the logistics of implementation.

I'd love to have you join us if you feel like sharing, venting, brainstorming, witnessing, or otherwise participating in conversations about the topics listed below. Come to all six or drop in to the ones that you’re most interested in. All are welcome, and RSVP is requested for each individual session you plan to attend.

If anything about this project prompts questions, feedback, or ideas, I invite you to email me so we can connect and discuss further.

In solidarity,
Emily Hansel

Dreaming up a dancer’s utopia

When: Thursday, 12/7, 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Steppin’ Out Dance Studio (697 S Van Ness Ave)
What we’re getting at:

  • Dancers, what do you need and want in a dance job or process?
  • What tangible things can make our field more sustainable?
  • What things make you feel more supported and safe?
  • Let’s leave behind our scarcity mindset and dream big to generate a list of concrete desires.

The emotional labor of writing about our work

When: Monday, 12/11, 12:00-2:00pm
Where: Steppin’ Out Dance Studio (697 S Van Ness Ave)
What we’re getting at:

  • What emotions does grant writing bring up for you?
  • How do you feel about communicating about your dance work via the medium of spoken or written language?
  • How do you talk about yourself and your work in person vs. on social media vs. for grant applications?
  • Feelings about representing ourselves differently in different contexts

Ownership and credit in collaborative processes

When: Friday, 12/15, 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Steppin’ Out Dance Studio (697 S Van Ness Ave)
What we’re getting at:

  • Holding a thoughtful container for dancer-generated movement
  • How does it feel when you’re asked to generate material in different contexts?
  • How can we manage expectations and form sincere and clear agreements around collaboration, ownership, and credit?
  • Examples from our experiences where we felt good about the way credit and ownership were being handled

Building budgets that prioritize dancer pay

When: Saturday, 1/6, 2:00-4:00pm
Where: Impact Center (1625 Bush St)
What we’re getting at:

  • Making sure our budget aligns with our values and tells a story we can be proud of
  • Different pay rates for different artists/roles in a production
  • What’s an appropriate base rate/minimum wage/living wage for dancers? Other benefits for dancers?
  • How can a budget be geared toward sustainability?
  • Compensation for choreographers/directors

How can we hold decision-makers accountable?

When: Sunday, 1/14, 4:30-6:30pm
Where: Steppin’ Out Dance Studio (697 S Van Ness Ave)
What we’re getting at:

  • Fostering healthy and constructive conversations about accountability with people in leadership positions
  • How do we communicate when things aren’t working (for either dancer or director)?
  • How to respectfully say no, and be prepared to hear someone else say no to you.
  • Conversations across power dynamics (artist, collaborators, directors, funders, presenters, etc.)
  • Building in checks to power, asking for and providing sincere feedback
  • Ways to articulate inclusivity without being or feeling performative
  • Concrete examples from our experiences where a leader has changed their practices toward equity and safety

Ideas for resource sharing

When: Monday, 1/22, 5:45-7:45pm
Where: Steppin’ Out Dance Studio (697 S Van Ness Ave)
What we’re getting at:

  • How to amplify the resources we have to support more people
  • Collectively working as an ecosystem to share resources like space, time, money, and knowledge
  • Planning and coordinating to minimize conflicts and competition in the project-based, freelance dance community
  • Naming obstacles to resource sharing
  • Bring your own ideas!