Dance Company Managers

Last Updated: 4.5.2021

The following guidance is organized around the distinct categories: people, places, processes, and operator/employer plans. Additional recommendations, unique to our industry, are denoted in pink font.

Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac, is the keyboard shortcut for the Find command. Please use this to quickly search for key words in this document. 

Table of Contents:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Processes
  4. Operator/Employer Plans

1. PEOPLE

Classification

Dance company managers, note that your activities are likely considered moderate or high risk unless you are a soloist or a manager of a soloist dance company. The “type of dance risk” will vary based on the actual activities you plan to engage in and when you plan to engage in them, e.g.: individual or distanced group activities; organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups; organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups; local performances and/or showings; and/or touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings requiring travel. 

If you are a dance company manager that is unionized or has unionized members, be sure to review and integrate union guidance, type of work classification, and specific regulations into your plans and protocols.

  • Reference the most updated version of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s (SDC) guidelines.
  • Reference SAG-AFTRA’s “Safety First” resources and The COVID-19 Return to Work Agreement, which are the outcome of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), created in collaboration with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to develop science-based protocols to minimize the risk of transmission, and designed with the unique work environments of film and television production in mind. 

Physical Distancing

Dance company managers, consider establishing a pod, bubble or cohort system by doing the following:

  • Invest in a “bubbling” model for internal groups, like your dance company or staff, which allows a group of select individuals to interact mask-free due to established rules (eg. living together, no interaction with anyone outside of your bubble, etc.), medical protocols, tests and vigilance. A presiding authority is required to decide what the rules, protocols, and vigilance measures should be for your bubble. See also: Pod, Cohort.
  • Implement a cohort model for internal groups, like your dance company or staff:
    • Use a survey to transparently explain the working cohort approach, expected participation, and any implications of opting out, as well as requesting comfort level ratings, questions, and concerns.
      • With members’ feedback, collectively finalize and agree on your cohort approach, with options to revisit it at any time or for members to opt-out without financial repercussion at any time.
    • A working cohort approach may look like:
      • Requiring a COVID test 14 days before returning to work.
      • Requiring 100% participation in self-quarantine for the 14 days of quarantine prior to returning to work.
      • Confirming COVID test results, when available, with all cohort members.
        • Privacy note: Due to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your HR department or other internal point of contact cannot legally save or track detailed personal test information; they can merely track the date and “pass/fail.” If individuals are not comfortable sharing a screenshot or paper trail of test results, they may provide this information over an unrecorded, password protected zoom meeting (visually, without paper trail, or verbally).
      • An agreement to not increase each cohort member’s social bubble throughout rehearsals/performances and/or an agreement to get additional testing or quarantine in the instance that social interaction increases.
      • An agreement around travel to and from rehearsals/performances that could be in the form of intentional studio and venue selection based on proximity, investing in a stipend for (and encouraging) non-public transit, and/or training around how to use public transportation in the safest manner possible, coupled with travel slated during non-peak hours.
      • Requiring testing every two (2) weeks to ensure continued safety among the cohort.
      • In some instances, this approach may allow for partnering and dancing with contact, however, masks should remain on at all times.
    • A cohort is a group of select individuals within a larger group of individuals who are kept together to engage in their activity through scheduling measures that promote consistent separation of one cohort from another and therefore control interaction. See also: Pod, Bubble
  • Adjust your business model to create a cohort model for external groups, like dance classes and client rental bookings:
    • Note that when the individuals are not your employees, the cohort model will need to be more lenient and focused on your internal management and on-site health screenings as opposed to the individual testing, quarantining, and travel decisions of external parties.
    • The following are ways you could internally lead with the goal of reducing exposure:
      • Instead of drop-in classes offered to the public at large, make multiple dance class sessions available for sign up over a specific time period on different days or staggered within the same day.
      • Instead of ad hoc rentals offered to the public at large, prioritize larger-scale rental commitments like lockouts, space partnerships, those with clients who have consistent space needs over a specific time period, and/or one (1) rental client per day.
    • A cohort is a group of select individuals within a larger group of individuals who are kept together to engage in their activity through scheduling measures that promote consistent separation of one cohort from another and therefore control interaction. See also: Pod, Bubble

Dance company managers, when taping off dance areas in the studio, theater, and/or performing arts centers, consider at least nine (9) feet of distance between dancers who are side by side and at least 12 feet of distance between those dancers who are in front and/or behind. 

Dance company managers, encourage dance company members to arrive with dance clothes or costumes on or under street clothes to avoid communal gatherings in dressing rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

Dance company managers, do not linger on site and use the “get in, dance, get out” approach, as coined by Ausdance NSW, for all on-site dance activity.

  • In the instance that your company members are congregating and ignoring these requests from the Responsible Party (i.e., dance studio, theater, and/or performing arts space), note that the Responsible Party is empowered by state guidance to remove your group to eliminate congregating in their space and may further choose to restrict your access to their space in the future, out of respect for their entire community’s safety.

Dance company managers, be sure to maintain social distancing and wear an acceptable face covering when conducting any media or press interviews, as is expected as part of the NYS DOH’s “Media Production Guidance.”

Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces

If you are a dance company manager who operates their own space, consider designating a specific restroom stall or facility for the dance company’s exclusive use.

Dance company managers, make company dancers aware of the increased risk of exposure that comes with regularly using shared and/or enclosed spaces like elevators and restrooms. Avoid them when possible, and when this is not possible, be sure to have PPE and practice thorough hand hygiene.

On-Site Activity

Dance company managers, consider these steps to accommodate a comfortable transition back to the indoor or outdoor studio/theater:

  • Establish clear communication and safety agreements and protocols with all company members about re-entry to the field.
  • Offer collective and anonymous methods of gathering feedback and comfort level from your dancers prior to reopening and on an ongoing basis.
  • Share any communication provided to you by the studio(s), theater(s), or performing arts center(s) you are working with.
  • Be flexible as you schedule dance activity (keeping travel safety in mind) and projects, residencies, performances, and tours (keeping commitments to a minimum in this time of great uncertainty).
  • Explore and integrate virtual/digital processes into your company’s workflow as a backup measure in the instance of 1) another lockdown and/or 2) some dancers opting out of indoor dance activity due to safety concerns.
  • Create a general “Dance Company Plan for Indoor Activity” for all indoor dance activities and measures the company agrees to abide by, in addition to the venue/Responsible Party’s safety measures.
  • Create a general “Dance Company Plan for Outdoor Activity” for all outdoor dance activities and measures the company agrees to abide by, in addition to the venue/Responsible Party’s safety measures.

Dance company managers, consider equitable options for those dancers who may not feel safe returning to in-person dance. E.g.:

  • Have a conversation about their desire to be furloughed so that they may collect unemployment compensation and not have the obligation of work for the time being, or to be kept on payroll and temporarily reassigned.
  • Have a conversation about how their role can temporarily shift until they feel comfortable to safely return.
  • Temporarily assign them to an exclusively remote dancer role (e.g. live-streamed dance training or repertory development, etc.).
  • Temporarily assign them to remotely support reopening plans.
  • Temporarily assign them to remote administrative duties or to a team in need of additional support.
  • Encourage remote professional development activity, mentoring, or shadowing of colleagues working in other areas of interest.
  • Deploy them remotely as a company representative and information gatherer across field-wide calls, meetings, conversations, panels, webinars, etc.

Dance company managers, communicate a “whistleblowing” method for dancers to share if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if they see someone not complying with health and safety measures that allow for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys.

Dance company managers, be sure to consistently use facilities’ digital pre-registration, pre-space booking, and pre-ticket reservations to book class, sign up for space, and/or buy tickets.

Dance company managers, be aware that limited on-site staffing across studios, theaters, and performing arts centers may mean a more limited capacity around production elements and support.

To dance company managers whose companies typically have on-site audiences:

  • Be sure to enforce all guidelines that apply to anyone entering the studio, theater, or performing arts center (e.g. mask wearing, health screening, social distancing, etc.).
  • Further, consider doing the following:
    • Prohibit on-site audiences for informal gatherings like showings and open rehearsals.
    • Use virtual streaming as an alternative to reach audiences.
    • If welcoming on-site audiences, carefully consider restricted capacity limits, and arrange any fixed or flexible audience seating so that individuals remain six (6) feet apart in all directions, are avoiding paths of airflow, and are located in a large open space with high ceilings, windows, and/or adequate HVAC and circulation requirements.

The following are recommendations for dance company managers pursuing outdoor performances or festivals:

  • Define what “safe” interaction means in performance for your dance company, based on individual comfort levels, agreements, the implementation of any bubbling, pod, or cohort model, and how many artists or groups are being presented.
  • Create an agreement with the outdoor venue or festival, who is the Responsible Party in this instance, on what their safety protocols and support will be, along with any additional measures your dance company wishes to and will independently enforce.
  • Openly communicate this agreement, overall expectations, timelines, planning, rehearsal length, and performance precautions with your dance company.
  • Limit public interaction during on-site classes or rehearsals leading up to the performance (taped-off or otherwise marked areas for dancers, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.).
  • Determine whether or not a live audience is allowed, based on the size and nature of the outdoor space and its ability to accommodate both the performers and the public/audience members safely.
  • Determine how to navigate public interaction during the performance (taped-off or otherwise marked areas for audience, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.), keeping in mind that it is best practice to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from the public at all times.
  • Enforce strict face mask policies for all performers and audience members. 
    • Note that “Dancers may temporarily remove their face covering during performances or rehearsals, or when it interferes with a core activity such as doing hair, makeup, or wardrobe. Dancers must don face coverings as soon as practicable following the above activities.” There is no further guidance given, so this exception would need to be approved by performers and presenters on a case-by-case basis. If certain groups proceed with performance without masks, consider acknowledging this and the reasons for this decision within the program.
  • Create an understudy or change of repertory plan in the instance that a member of the dance company is confirmed to have COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms near or around the performance date.

If you are a dance company performing via live streaming without a live audience, consider separate agreements for live streaming apart from a standard performance/tour fee and further determine any conditions regarding the use of the live stream content.

If you are a soloist and/or soloist dance company, you may be permitted to rehearse and train without a mask, as long as you are the only individual in the space with the doors closed and windows open. Be sure to confirm with the Responsible Party.

If you are a dance company manager, consider reviewing and providing de-escalation training for your frontline, on-site staff. Some resources include:

Workplace Activity

If you are a dance company manager with a Human Resources staff or department, consider empowering these staff in your reopening efforts, especially when it comes to:

  • managing health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, etc, and
  • assisting with clear intercompany/staff communication and updates. 

If you are a dance company manager without a Human Resources staff or department, consider doing the following:

  • Nominate a leader within the company or another staff member to manage health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, as well as assist with clear intercompany/staff communication and updates.
  • Take on and prioritize the responsibility of managing health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, as well clear intercompany/staff communication and updates yourself.

All dance company managers should review, edit, and implement safe workforce policies and procedures around workday schedules, remote time, lunch breaks, sick leave policy, and benefits. In addition to general cleaning and training, all dance company managers should consider placing their on-site “essential” workers in customer service training, de-escalation training, and COVID-19 management training.

Movement & Commerce

The following are recommendations for dance company managers who coordinate dancer travel to and from rehearsals, class, and/or performances:

  • Utilize various rehearsal locations in proximity to where your dancers live and may therefore be able to walk and/or bike to.
  • Invest in your dancers’ transportation or transportation stipends for non-public transit.
  • Conduct a training around how to use public transportation in the safest manner possible, coupled with strategically scheduling classes, rehearsals, and other dance activity so that dancers can avoid public transit during peak hours.

Touring dance company managers, note that touring/activity that requires travel is not currently permitted in New York State. As you plan future touring engagements, consider the following:

  • Pre-Tour Planning
    • Assess and discuss dancers’ comfort in resuming touring.
    • Outline a plan for how you will manage a lack or loss of consensus around touring:
      • How will you accommodate those who opt out of touring without forcing them to tour or jeopardizing their position or employment?
      • At what level of consensus will you reconsider the touring engagement altogether?
      • What is your “last-minute” plan of action (repertory adjustments, double casts, contract stipulations with the presenter, cancellation policies, travel insurance, etc.), should travel restrictions change, or should a member of the company need to opt out due to having a confirmed case of COVID-19, experiencing related symptoms, and/or having been exposed to someone with COVID-19?
    • Budget for increased touring expenses to cover the need for travel insurance, last-minute cancellations, more expensive but safer travel accommodations, single housing for all, etc.
    • Confirm that all persons on the tour will not be impacted by visa or local rules; check everyone’s status thoroughly.
    • Update tech riders to require that presenters supply their protocols for cleaning, backstage, and company/audience safety before any agreement is arranged.
      • Companies should review the presenter’s protocols together and negotiate requirements to meet dancers’ satisfaction before signing contracts.
    • Create a touring plan memo that outlines all aspects of the tour in advance for dissemination, review, clarification, concerns, and questions. Your memo might include the following areas: Pre-Tour Planning, Rehearsal to Prepare for Travel, Travel Days, Protocols of the City/Country of Performances, International Restrictions & Contact with Embassies, Housing, On-Tour Activities, and Conditions with Presenters
  • Rehearsal to Prepare for Travel
    • Incorporate all local protocols, for those involved in the tour, within rehearsals.
    • Come to an agreement about additional company or any intra-company protocols, and meet to discuss tour plans and protocols.
    • Understand and acknowledge that at a moment’s notice the gig might fall through.
    • Seek a consistent local studio, campus space, or even a performance venue on the tour for the company’s use, and seek exclusive use whenever possible.
  • Travel Days
    • Plan on providing PPE to company members throughout all travel days and the duration of the tour.
    • Minimize exposure risks en route to airports as much as possible (e.g. use private cars).
    • Check airlines’ cleaning protocols and seating protocols (Frommers.com).
    • For local travel, ask the presenter to supply vehicles that will minimize exposure risks (e.g. vehicles with windows that open, charter buses, or vans).
  • Protocols of the City/Country of Performances
    • Track virus and protocols within the tour location(s) for one (1) month prior to travel.
    • During this time, communicate with the presenter about protocol differences and any additional concerns or safety measures you want to discuss.
    • Prior to departure, come to an agreement with the presenter about audience protocols, any pre- or post-show activity, classes, publicity calls, etc. 
      • Wherever possible, opt for non-performance activity to be virtual.
    • Be aware of and build in any quarantine restrictions, or anticipated/potential quarantine restrictions, both upon arrival and upon return.
  • International Restrictions & Contact with Embassies
    • Contact the nearest embassy in the U.S. to get clear information about restrictions, and get the name of a contact with the appropriate embassy.
    • Contact the U.S. Consular Office in the country of the tour to let them know of your tour and travel dates.
    • Check with every company member about citizenship status, visa status, etc., to make sure there will not be complications coming or going (e.g. international dancers leaving the U.S. to perform and not being allowed back in the U.S.).
  • Housing
  • Work with the presenter and company to ensure that the housing is safe for all.
    • Whenever possible, arrange for housing that is “pod” friendly. Hotel housing would need to be five (5) stars to ensure quality.
  • Ensure everyone has a single room, or, if dancers are comfortable sharing a room with another dancer and have formed a “mini-pod” with that dancer, double rooms are acceptable.
  • Aim for housing that is a short distance, ideally walking distance, from the performance venue and/or any rehearsal venues.
  • Bring extra hygiene, cleaning, and disinfectant supplies. 
  • On-Tour Activities
  • Avoid any independent, local vehicular travel and stick to the travel provided as part of the tour.
  • Confirm the ability to have food delivered to the venue or housing, if desired.
  • Establish protocols for all company members regarding post on-tour work hours (e.g. dining out protocol, socializing protocol) to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Continue daily health screenings and temperature checks of company members, regardless if the presenter or tour city/country requires this.
  • Conditions with Presenters
  • Clarify upon entering the venue that the venue, stage crew, and company are in agreement with protocols.
  • Enforce clear mask policies:
    • Masks should always be worn by the crew.
    • Masks should always be worn by the dancers with the exception of performing, unless the presenter and company have a different agreement.
    • Audience mask protocols should follow local guidelines, but the presenter and company must be in agreement and adjust protocols as needed.
  • Limit backstage access to only the dancers and crew.
  • Ensure your contract includes a contact tracing clause, which requires both parties to update one another on confirmed COVID cases or symptoms for at least two (2) weeks after the final performance.
  • Uphold local guidelines related to venue seating, but negotiate stricter seating protocols as needed.
  • Task the company with managing the disinfecting/cleaning of props and costumes.
  • Task the crew with managing the disinfecting/cleaning of the theater, stage, backstage, and dressing rooms.
  • Restrict the use of the dressing room(s) to the company exclusively.
  • Close the green room and have company food delivered to the dressing room(s).
  • Open the venue’s freights, windows, and doors to allow for ventilation and air circulation prior to and following all performances, with presenter staff monitoring theater access.

Dance company managers, be aware of and communicate these precautions for anyone traveling—for work or otherwise:

  • Travel enforcement teams will be stationed at airports statewide to meet arriving aircrafts at gates, and to request from disembarking passengers proof of completion of the State Department of Health traveler form, which they received in flight.
  • All out-of-state travelers from designated states must complete the form upon entering New York. Travelers coming to New York from designated states through other means of transport, including trains and cars, must fill out the form online.
  • If you have traveled from or within one of the designated states with significant community spread, you must quarantine for 14 days.

2. PLACES

Air Handling Systems

Dance company managers, keep in mind that having classes and/or rehearsals performed within an indoor location(s) has the following airflow implications:

  • Exercising indoors can pose a greater risk of transmission than exercising outdoors for multiple reasons, including less airflow and being in an enclosed space.
  • Being in an enclosed space with others for longer than 10 min increases the chances of exposure and infection. 
  • The following are additional measures you can take:
    • Maximizing fresh air intake:
      • Open windows when possible.
      • Keep doors open when possible.
      • Consider adding fans in windows for increased fresh airflow.
      • Position fans to direct air in a single direction.
      • When possible, airflow should be directed above head level to prevent air blowing directly from one person into another.
      • Change all HVAC filters to at least MERV – 13 filters.
        • Consider changing HVAC filters on a more regular and/or frequent basis.
      • Change HVAC settings to a higher percentage of fresh air intake where applicable.
      • Clean HVAC systems regularly.
      • Change settings on AC units to fresh air intake when possible.
      • Leave adequate time between studio users to have the air completely recirculate (i.e., staggered scheduling).
      • When possible, split up groups so there are fewer people sharing space at any given time. Always follow CDC- and state-required capacity requirements. 
      • Consider air purifiers and filters for rooms that do not have any windows, though they have not been tested and proven to filter out COVID-19.
      • If fans are being used, make sure they are being cleaned regularly with products registered by the EPA as effective to kill COVID-19.
      • Confirm exhaust fans in bathrooms are running all the time and at a minimum 1.0 cfm/sf.
      • For additional advice, consult with an Industrial Hygienist for your specific space.

Dance company managers, be mindful of the air-conditioning and/or fan direction within your space, and minimize the number of dancers lined up in that airflow path.

Protective Equipment

Dance company managers, communicate these considerations for dancers who wear masks:

  • A mask will make it harder to breathe during exercise initially and dancers should self-monitor for symptoms of light-headedness, dizziness, numbness or tingling, and/or shortness of breath. 
    • Monitor the intensity of your class/workout as you get used to wearing a mask during exercise.
    • Your body will adapt over a few weeks to wearing a mask. 
    • If you start to feel dizzy, imbalanced, or over-fatigued, stop your activity and rest. 
  • Do your best not to remove your mask during class or rehearsal. If you do need to remove your mask, dispose of single-use masks in the trash or place a reusable mask into its own sealable bag, wash your hands and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, letting them dry for 30 seconds, and then replace your used mask with a clean one. 
    • Dancers may require multiple masks to get through the day. 
    • If your mask becomes saturated with moisture from breathing or sweating, you need to change into a dry mask. 
    • A wet mask is less efficient than a dry mask at filtering bacteria and viruses. 
  • Disposable masks should be worn only once and then replaced with a fresh mask. 
  • All reusable masks should be cleaned ideally in a washer with hot water and soap, and then dried in a dryer before the next use.
    • Ironing on the highest setting can also disinfect a reusable mask after washing and drying.
    • There are now multiple commercial reusable mask options available for use during dance/exercise.

Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection

If you are a dance company manager who uses various spaces, consider having additional hand sanitizer for company members’ use, though all Responsible Parties (e.g. studios, theaters, and/or performing arts centers) should and are required to have hygiene, cleaning, and disinfectant supplies readily on site.

To all dance company managers: Consider hosting advance, digital training on COVID-19 safety including hand and respiratory hygiene, PPE protocols and access, and cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures. Promote ongoing, regular training sessions. Example resources include: 

Phased Reopening

Dance company managers, consider the timing of your end goal:

  • Does it make sense to bring dancers back into the studios to help condition them if safe performance cannot happen until months later?
  • How will you make space to recondition dancers’ endurance and strength after such an extended and unusual layoff? 
    • Since dancers have had to condition in smaller spaces, on different floor surfaces, and/or with varied instruction, a company should offer an appropriate and graded progression of a minimum of four to six (4–-6) weeks, depending on the activity and dance genre, for the dancers to return to full dancing. 

Dance company managers, consider phased-in dance activity:

  • Quarantine for 14 days before resuming regular rehearsal/training activity to establish a cohort.
  • Assign a dance company liaison to coordinate advance needs and protocols with the studio, theater, or performing arts center(s) at which you are training and rehearsing, and clearly relay information to the dance company. 
  • Prioritize any solo, duet, or trio repertoire prior to resuming group repertoire, as practicable. 
  • Integrate digital media for streamed teaching or performance, as practicable.
  • Resume live performance or showings with live audiences as your final phase of re-entry.
  • See Dance/USA’s “Return to Dancing & Training Considerations” for a more detailed example of a phased reopening approach for dance activity. (Published May 2020)

Dance company managers, consider a phased-in approach for your company members:

  • Phases One to Three (Weeks 0–6) are characterized by the re-acquisition of skill and increase in strength and endurance. 
  • Phases Four and Five (Weeks 7 plus) are characterized by the reintroduction of more complex skills and increased intensity and duration of training.
  • Review these phases and strategies in further detail, as presented in Performance Medicine’s Return to Dance Safely for a simple yet effective way to apply scientific loading principles and research so that your dancer(s) can return to dance in a safe and sustainable way.

Communications Plan

Dance company managers, craft an “Exposure to COVID-19 disclaimer” and an associated “Code of Conduct” to accompany any and all communications around your reopening plans and dance activities of any kind.

Dance company managers, when communicating about your reopening publicly, consider streamlining your messages, such as:

  • What you are doing to keep audiences safe
  • What you are doing to keep company members safe
  • What your specific policies and procedures are for [PARTICULAR AUDIENCE]:
    • Resident Dance Company
    • Visitors/Renters
    • Staff
    • Faculty
    • Audiences
    • Etc.
  • Further, tailor all digital communication whenever possible to provide the recipient as much clarity on what exactly is expected of them, as well as when and why such expectations apply.

Dance company managers, consider establishing a written agreement with your company dancers and staff to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, as well as lists of points of contact, site safety managers, and company liaisons have been received and reviewed by all.

  • Include an option to sign and date in agreement with the caveat that the employee or employer can revisit and request changes to the agreement at any time.
  • Include an option to sign, date, and opt out of the agreement; provide what the implications or compromise will be (repositioned within a staff department in need of support, provided a new company role during this interim period, asked to lead or build out virtual dance activities, engaged with a hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • In the instance of a significant (more than 50%) lack of consensus, your reopening plans should be revisited and amended to ensure the safety and security of your dancers and staff to the best of your ability.

Dance company managers, consider establishing a written agreement with all regular, new, and as-needed faculty, dance teachers, collaborators, and other independent contractors to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, as well as lists of points of contact, site safety managers, and company liaisons have been received, reviewed, and agreed upon by all.

  • Include an option to sign and date in agreement with the caveat that the employee or employer can revisit and request changes to the agreement at any time.
  • Include an option to sign, date and opt out of the agreement; provide what the implications or compromise will be (repositioned within a staff department in need of support, provided a new role during this interim period, asked to lead or build out virtual dance activities, engaged with a hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • In the instance of a significant (more than 50%) lack of consensus, your reopening plans should be revisited and amended to ensure the safety and security of your faculty, dance teachers, collaborators, and other independent contractors to the best of your ability.

Dance company managers, consider digital and, if relevant, on-site signage related to your specific public reopening protocols, disclaimers, and/or codes of conduct to ensure transparency among everyone who engages with your company.

  • Further ensure that dancers or dance students with lived experience of disability fully understand the health risks and COVID safety measures and consent to participating in rehearsal, class, and/or performance with the knowledge they can withdraw, as desired, at any point.

Dance company managers, ensure all COVID-19 information and reopening protocols are communicated clearly and accessibly, whether written or spoken:

  • For all digital communication to your dance community (e.g. via Facebook or in your e-newsletter), ensure images are verbally described in the image’s caption and ensure that information can be read via screen readers (e.g. avoid screenshots of Twitter posts).
  • Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to further your digital accessibility measures.
  • Depending on student/staff/parent cohorts, consider providing ASL interpretation of health updates, Braille versions of key signage and a COVID safe badge, and Easy Read versions of all or select COVID-related communications to support those who are deaf/hard of hearing, those who are blind/vision-impaired, or those with intellectual disability.
  • For spoken communication to people with companions, ensure communication is directed straight to the person and not their companion.

If you are a dance company manager with space, consider communicating (e.g. on your website, in rental agreements, in class and space confirmation emails) what cleaning and disinfectant products you are using to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions.

If you are a dance company manager with space, consider the following cheat sheet of the top items to communicate with the public, in addition to anything mandated by state guidance:

  • Your reopening plan and safety protocols
  • Contact information for your reopening point of contact, site safety manager, and accessibility needs contact
  • A disclaimer providing a basic health risk reminder and liability release
  • The Code of Conduct for everyone participating in on-site activity
  • The plan or policy for addressing those (employees or public) who refuse to comply with NYS guidance and/or the facility safety protocols, and the whistleblower procedure for directing such concerns and instances
  • The specific cleaning and disinfectant products you are using throughout your studio, theater, and/or performing arts center to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions

3. PROCESSES

Screening & Testing

Dance company managers, encourage all dancers to self-monitor their symptoms. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Checking for fever > 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath twice a day 
  • Daily review of other symptoms that could be related, e.g. sore throat, congestion, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sense of smell, pink eye 

Anyone who develops symptoms should leave immediately, seek care from their physician, and isolate.

Dance company managers conducting health screenings independently or in addition to a facility, consider doing so in a flexible, equitable, and highly confidential manner:

  • Follow guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
  • Keep the HIPAA Privacy Rule in mind and use only pass/fail to denote results on health screening questionnaires and/or temperature checks, and do not save or share personal health information.
  • Prevent stigma and discrimination by making health screenings as private as possible.
    • Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain the confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.
  • Understand that the ADA permits employers to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety, which is to be determined based on the best available objective medical evidence. 
    • Guidance from CDC or other public health authorities is such evidence. Therefore, employers will be acting consistent with the ADA as long as any screening implemented is consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities for that type of workplace at that time. 
  • Offer the choice to complete a daily health screening (questionnaire and/or temperature screening) either in person or virtually.
  • If implementing in-person health checks:
    • Conduct them safely and respectfully.
    • Use social distancing, barrier or partition controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the screener. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and is more difficult to implement, given PPE shortages and training requirements.
    • Complete the health checks in a way that helps maintain social distancing guidelines, such as providing multiple screening entries into the building.

Dance company managers, please consider conducting health screenings prior to any indoor or outdoor activities/gatherings, and understand that Responsible Parties may also require more than one (1) per day (e.g. if you exit and re-enter the facility).

To dance company managers whose companies do not have health insurance: Remind all company members that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. For those seeking health insurance, consider directing them to:

The following are recommendations for dance company managers who are setting up a regular testing protocol:

  • Require COVID-19 tests for dancers or dance workers engaged in in-person dance activity of any kind every two (2) weeks.
  • Require COVID-19 tests for any office-based workers or staff not engaged in in-person dance activity of any kind every three (3) to four (4) weeks.
  • Require COVID-19 tests for anyone who has been exposed to someone who tested positive in the past fourteen (14) days. CDC: What is exposure?
  • Reiterate that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations
  • Create an accountability plan for test monitoring, which may look like sending a screenshot of confirmed test results to your employer’s point of contact or HR department, sending an email confirming test results, reporting on test results verbally, showing test results in person, showing test results while on a video conference, or a combination of any of these methods based on individual comfort level.

If you are a dance company manager conducting health screenings independently or in addition to a facility, keep the HIPAA Privacy Rule in mind and use only pass/fail to denote results on health screening questionnaires and/or temperature checks, and do not save or share personal health information.

  • Also note that the ADA permits employers to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety, which is to be determined based on the best available objective medical evidence. Guidance from CDC or other public health authorities is such evidence. Therefore, employers will be acting consistent with the ADA as long as any screening implemented is consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities for that type of workplace at that time. 

To all dance company managers: Communicate in advance what members are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19. Identify the Responsible Parties’ central point of contact for your dancers. This point of contact may vary by activity, location, shift or day; they are responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all health screening questionnaires, and for receiving information from patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members who later experience COVID-19-related symptoms.

Tracing & Tracking

If you are a dance company manager who is considered a Responsible Party, consider an app to support the logs you must retain for tracing and tracking purposes: 

To all dance company managers, understand your insurance and potential liability issues should a member of your company or someone working with your company contract COVID-19:

  • Consult with your insurance broker to determine if your general liability policy covers COVID-19.
  • Know that it would be difficult, but not impossible, for the contraction of COVID-19 to be traced to your venue or company.
  • Let those employees covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance know whether or not it covers them in the instance of COVID-19.
  • Regardless, in any instance of exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19, you need to be ready to prove that all proper health and safety protocols were planned, clearly communicated, and implemented.

If you are a dance company manager conducting outdoor performances, consider your ability to foster a safe environment with screening, tracing, and tracking capability for all dancers and audiences by using the following:

  • Tickets and RSVPs, with all necessary contact information, required for attendance
  • On-site staff to manually collect necessary information to the best of their ability
  • A “sign-in” for the public when performing in a public space to capture necessary information to the best of your ability

Proceed with all of the above with the full understanding and transparency that you are not going to be able to enforce full public participation and/or cannot ensure with certainty the complete safety of your dancers and the public this way.

To all dance company managers, in the instance that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the company:

  • Immediately notify your supervisor, HR representative, the Responsible Party’s contact person, and/or the Responsible Party’s site safety monitor, who will notify their respective public health authority that will contact the state agency to begin contact tracing.
  • With the local public health authority and the Infection Mitigation Coordinator, you may help identify the areas of your facilities where the infected individual visited.
  • Any known individuals who were within six (6) feet of the infected individual must be notified, must immediately report the instance to their employers, and must quarantine for 14 days.
  • The spaces in which the infected individual remained longer than 10 minutes will be closed for 24 hours, ventilated, cleaned, and disinfected.
  • The infected individual can return to work following:
    • At least 10 days of isolation since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and with other symptoms improving.
    • At least 10 days of isolation since the date the individual had their positive test, if the individual was asymptomatic and continued to have no symptoms.
    • Note: The infected individual is not required to undergo further testing unless recommended by their health care provider.
      • A healthcare provider may recommend that the infected individual undergo repeat testing for COVID-19 to end their isolation earlier than would be done according to the criteria above. If so, they can be around others after they receive two (2) negative test results in a row, from tests done at least 24 hours apart.
      • If the infected individual has a severe illness from COVID-19 (admitted to a hospital, needed oxygen), their healthcare provider may recommend staying in isolation for longer than 10 days after their symptoms first appear (possibly up to 20 days) and they may need to finish their period of isolation at home. If testing is available in the infected individual’s community, their healthcare provider may recommend that they undergo repeat testing for COVID-19 to end their isolation earlier than would be done according to the criteria above. If so, they can be around others after they receive two (2) negative tests results in a row, from tests done at least 24 hours apart.
      • The infected individual should only undergo repeat testing at the recommendation of their healthcare provider and that is done only if they want to end the isolation earlier than normal for the case type.

Dance company managers, in the instance that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the company mid-residency or tour, consider doing the following:

  • Immediately notify your company contact person and the contact person of the residency/tour location, both of whom will notify their respective public health authority that will contact the state agency to begin contact tracing.
  • Implement all of the protocol outlined above under “in the instance that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the company.” Further support the company members, who will be isolated and/or in quarantine for 10-14 days. E.g.:
    • Coordinate food, laundry service, additional per diem, and any other support possible for the company members isolating and quarantining away from home.
    • Cancel or postpone all dance activity throughout the duration of the isolation and quarantine period.

4. OPERATOR/EMPLOYER PLANS

Dance company managers, ask for and/or follow the protocols provided to you by other Responsible Parties (studios, theaters, performing arts centers, performance venues, outdoor spaces, etc.). Each may vary. If you are not comfortable with a Responsible Party’s safety measures or lack thereof, consider discussing this with the Responsible Party, reconsidering your engagement, establishing increased safety measures for your dance company, and/or filing a general or zone-based report.

If you are a  dance company manager who is considered a Responsible Party, confirm how your business is classified and keep this in mind when crafting your plans and proceeding with reopening.

  • If you do not know your industry number (NAICS number), which is anywhere from two (2) to six (6) digits long, you can determine it here or use the “Search” or “Filter by Category” function under the Business Category tab of the NYS Industry Lookup Tool here
  • With your NAICS number(s), use the NYS Industry Lookup Tool to identify your industry’s open or closed status. 
    • It is recommended that you follow the state reopening guidelines that correspond with your industry classification. 
  • Please note that:
  • If your organization aligns with multiple industries, there may be more than one (1) industry classification that is relevant. This may allow you to open certain parts of your business, but not all, which will affect how you phase your reopening. E.g.:
    • NAICS 711120 – Dance Company is “currently closed (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 561110 – Office Administrative Services is currently “open for business (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711510 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers is currently “operating with restrictions (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711310 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities is currently “operating with restrictions” (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711320 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities is currently “operating with restrictions” (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711219 – Other Spectator Sports is currently “operating with restrictions” (as of 01/27/21)
  • That said, there is no guarantee that an inspector will agree with or use the industry classification(s) that you selected. If they do not agree with you, and feel you should be classified under a different industry that is not yet allowed to reopen or has different requirements, you may be subject to violations and/or closure.
  • Beyond the guidance that is associated with your industry, further guidance may be required and may need to be integrated into your reopening plans depending on your business model (e.g. DOE regulations, union regulations, university regulations, office administrative service regulations, etc.). 
  • No one should reopen or re-engage in their dance activity until they can do so safely with all recommended guidance implemented and integrated into their tailored reopening plans.

Dance company managers, a suggested step-by-step process to craft your reopening plans is as follows:

  • Copy and paste all applicable Dance Field Scenarios for your business model onto your branded letterhead.
  • Review all suggestions within the Dance Field Scenarios and remove, add to, edit, and/or tailor them based on your specific dance company and business model. Note: you will need to have read the Standard Recommendations in order to do this effectively.
  • Examples:
    • Under Section: “People,” Subsection: “On-Site Activity” of this Dance Field Scenario, Gibney could denote the capacity limits of all 23 studios, ceiling heights, and windows/airflow to highlight those that will safely accommodate its 12-person dance company + one (1) choreographer, and plans for how to conduct rehearsals exclusively in that/those space(s).
    • Under Section: “People,” Subsection: “Physical Distancing” of this Dance Field Scenario, Dance Theatre of Harlem Company could note its plans and protocols for its February 2021 quarantine bubble and residency, further noting any subsequent bubbling, pod, or cohort models under consideration.
    • Under Section: “Places,” Subsection: “Protective Equipment” of this Dance Field Scenario, Doug Varone and Dancers could identify the specific brand of face masks that the dancers will be using and why.
    • Under Section: “Operator/Employer Plans,” under the suggestion – “If you are a dance company manager, ask for and/or follow the protocols provided to you by other Responsible Parties (studios, theaters, and/or performing arts centers).” – Kinetic Light could source and include the contact information for the designated central point of contact and site safety monitors at the studio(s) in which the company typically rehearses.
  • [OPTIONAL, but recommended]: Copy and paste all of your edited, tailored Dance Field Scenarios into the respective Sections and Subsections of the Standard Recommendations to create one (1) tailored plan.
  • Rename your tailored document or the Standard Recommendations + relevant Dance Field Scenario(s) to create your reopening plan.
  • Example: SLMDances Reopening Plan, as of [DATE]
  • [OPTIONAL, but recommended]: Complete the New York State Department of Health (DOH) NY Forward Safety Plan Template based on your reopening plan.
  • Compile your package of reopening plans:
    • Your Completed NYS DOH NY Forward Safety Plan
    • Your Reopening Plan
    • The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19
    • Any resources, supplementary materials, or articles that are particularly relevant
  • Disseminate your package of reopening plans, noting that they are subject to change:
    • Digitally share with all dancers, dance workers, dance faculty/teachers, staff, collaborators, Board, etc.
    • If relevant, post the package of reopening materials throughout your space.
    • Consider posting on your website for greater transparency across the field.
    • Keep a printed copy on hand for use in the instance of an inspection.
  • Submit your plan to the state and affirm adherence to your industry’s relevant New York State guidelines for reopening. 
  • Implement your plan and lean on:
    • Supplementary Materials for samples and templates
    • FAQ for answers to common questions
    • Glossary for definitions and acronyms
    • Resources for more detailed information
  • Update your plan periodically based on the:
  • Re-disseminate, re-post, and re-implement each new iteration of your plans.

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