Budgeting for Guest Choreographers

Q:  I want to bring in a guest choreographer to work with my competitive team, but my budget is limited. How much will it cost, and do you have any money-saving tips?

A: Rates for guest artists depend on their experience, time spent with your students, and the number of dancers in the routine. There’s no official figure, though a professional choreographer who’s working in TV, film or onstage will charge more than an up-and-comer. Usually it’s a flat fee per dancer or routine, but don’t forget to factor in airfare, meal expenses, hotel accommodations and often an agent’s fee.

Though it may cut costs, I never house guest artists in my home. Choreographers need privacy and downtime away from the studio. Always pay for a guest teacher’s stay in a clean, convenient hotel, and book early to get a reasonable rate.

Choreographers or professors from nearby college dance departments are also great resources for your students, and if they live close to your studio, you may only have to cover travel expenses.

At my studio, the dancers in the routine cover all guest artist fees and accommodations. I charge roughly $250–$300 per dancer for a small group routine, and up to $500–$750 for a solo. Choreographers will often teach a master class at your studio to get a sense of your students’ level and style—opening this class to other studios can help offset the fees for your dancers.

It’s expensive to work with guest choreographers, but it can definitely enhance your competitive team. It’s a great opportunity for dancers to grow as artists and work on picking up an unfamiliar choreographer’s style. Remind parents that it’s an important part to their child’s dance training to prepare them for professional life.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

Photo courtesy of Dance Teacher Summit

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