DT Notes: 5 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Guest Teacher

Because of shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” bringing in well-known dancers to your studio is now easier than ever. When booking a guest teacher, always consider first if it is the best option for your students. Talent manager Jim Keith offers the following advice for a successful engagement.

1. Clarify your objectives. Do you seek a recognizable name or someone more experienced? Chances are that most dancers on shows currently airing are just that—a dancer, not necessarily a dance teacher.

2. Look beyond performance credits. An amazing dance resumé doesn’t always translate to proper teaching qualifications. Questions to ask prospective freelance hires might include: Do you choreograph for any other studios in the area? How many years have you been teaching? Are you touring with any conventions at the moment? Where have you trained?

3. Follow proper channels. Ask who the proper booking contact is. Working with an artist’s representative can streamline communication and allow your guest to focus on the artistic aspects of the commitment, rather than details of travel arrangements, fees and contracts.

4. Budget accordingly. If booking through a representative, count on a standard 10 to 20 percent fee on top of the artist’s fee. Other potential costs may include travel, lodging and per diems for meals. Also, many artists require an up-front deposit, which is typically 50 percent.

5. Get it in writing. Exact terms and conditions should be stated in contract form, or what is commonly referred to as a “deal memo.” The talent representative can assist in this area, so be sure to request it during the booking process.


Jim Keith has worked in Los Angeles as a performer (actor and dancer), choreographer, educator and talent representative for over a decade.


Photo: Brian Friedman (by Rachel Papo)

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