Know Your Worth

Commercial and urban dancers come together to #FixThe6ix By Emma Kerson
  • Ella Avila, Thomas Colford and Roy Urbanozo / Photo by Anders Marshall
  • Interpose: A Dancer’s Rights Seminar at The Underground Dance Centre / Photo by Emma Kerson

In the field of commercial dance, art has a boss. In fact, the chain of command stems from the client, down through the production company, to the choreographer and then to the dancer, the bottom of a chain fuelled by commerce above all else.

On Saturday, May 28, around 100 commercial and urban dancers flocked to The Underground Dance Centre in Toronto for Interpose: A Dancer’s Rights Seminar. In what felt like a late-night house party infused with a relaxed yet empowered togetherness, Interpose spoke to the often trodden on younger dancer caught at the bottom of the commercial hierarchy.

Thomas Colford, the evening’s MC, recently won the #DoItWithDUO contest, receiving the support of Dance Umbrella of Ontario (DUO)’s administrative and management services to help realize his vision for this event. In collaboration with DUO, the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists (CADA), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and The Underground Dance Centre, Interpose facilitated dialogue around standards, payment and improving working conditions across the board. #KnowYourWorth, #ChequeYourself and #FixThe6ix were three hashtag takeaways.

The invited experienced professionals spoke in a similar format to a TEDx Talk, only on this occasion with a rowdier audience, clearly inspired by the resonance.

Bboy, choreographer and experienced arts producer and administrator Jon Reid spoke on behalf of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association but talked from personal experience, urging everyone to “build for community with community.” Kallee Lins spoke on behalf of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, and Natasha Powell, Larissa Taurins-Crawford and Lesley Bramhill spoke on behalf of CADA and its mission to make the Professional Standards for Dance document more relevant for commercial, urban and contemporary dancers alike.

Of So You Think You Can Dance Canada notoriety, Collective Elite co-founders Bree Wasylenko and Caroline Torti offered moving, personal experiences and suggested as a standard guideline for taking any job to always have a combination of at least two of the three Ps: People, Pay, Project, that excite you. Gadfly co-founders Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho opened the floor up for questions and encouraged breaking moulds, diversifying and, most importantly, promoting Canadian talent. Ending the evening with an abundance of personality was dancer, choreographer and head of the self-titled Addy Chan Casting & Production Company. Chan stressed that change can only happen if everyone is working toward it from an informed place and all together. #KnowYourWorth

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