Independent Dance Workers

Last Updated: 5.04.2022 at 7:00 p.m.

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

GOVERNMENT MANDATES

KEY TO NYC

As of March 7, 2022, as announced by Mayor Eric Adams, the previous Key to NYC Pass program is suspended. Businesses including indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues) are no longer required by the City to check for proof of vaccination for entry. All other vaccine mandates, such as the private sector mandate, in New York City will remain in place at this time.

Still mandated as of March 2022: Key to NYC Workplace Vaccination Requirement: All private-sector employers in NYC must see proof of employees’ first dose by December 27th and proof of a second dose by Thursday, February 10th (unless the employee got the single-shot Johnson & Johnson). Those employers are required to sign and publicly post an affirmation that they’re complying with the mandate. Also included are rideshare drivers, people who rent space in a coworking office, and therapists who visit clients in their home. The City may fine employers $1,000+ for violations. Visit this City Vaccine Workplace Requirement webpage to learn more about complying with the mandate. Learn more about what employers need to know about the NYC Vaccine Mandate. 

For reference – Key to NYC requirements that were in effect August 2021 through March 2022:

As per Mayor de Blasio’s expansion of the Key to NYC Pass program (original date of effect August 16, 2021), as of January 29, 2022 all people over the age of 5 are required to show proof of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO (except for those 18 years and older who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) for indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues). The mayor also announced 5-11-year-old children are required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. These requirements also mean that employees working at these locations must be fully vaccinated. People 18 and older are also required to show identification along with their proof of vaccination.

Resources on vaccines and the Key to NYC program can be found on the Vaccines page of this website. Responsible Parties should be prepared to, at any time, adjust and adapt between various levels of danger zones in the event of positive cases within the organization, an increase in COVID cases in the area, and/or the emergence of new COVID variants of concern.

NEW YORK STATE HERO ACT

As of March 17, 2022, the New York State Commissioner of Health ended the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under New York’s HERO Act. Private sector employers are still required to have an Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (the “Plan”), but are no longer required to implement the Plan at this time. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with the previous HERO Act standards. 

For reference – HERO Act designation that was in effect September 2021 through March 2022:On September 6, Governor Kathy Hochul designated COVID-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans to prevent workplace infections.

MASK REQUIREMENTS AND UPDATES

CDC:

On February 25, 2022, the CDC announced relaxed masking guidelines for communities in areas considered to be “low risk.” Currently all counties of NYC and Long Island fall into the “low risk” category, meaning the CDC is no longer encouraging indoor mask use in these areas. Health officials emphasized that people should still wear face coverings if they wish or if they are personally at high risk, and spaces/venues/organizations may choose to require masks at their own discretion. 

NEW YORK STATE AND CITY:

Following a mask mandate during the winter COVID-19 Omicron surge in New York State, as of March 2, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York State will end the mask requirement for schools. This policy change was echoed by Mayor Eric Adams, who announced that beginning March 7, 2022, the indoor mask mandate in NYC public schools in grades K-12 will be lifted. 

This news followed the February 10, 2022 announcement from Governor Kathy Hochul that the statewide indoor mask or vaccine requirement mandate would be lifted. Businesses, local governments, and counties can choose to implement a mask mandate. Mandates or recommendations on the local level supersede state mandates. 

Masks are still required in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, public transportation, and related entities.

New York State and the State’s Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Children 2 – 5 years old who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask. Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Learn about the best KN95 masks for COVID protection.

INDUSTRY AND UNION GUIDANCE

Following the suspension of Key to NYC by Mayor Adams and the lifting of mask mandates by Governor Hochul, several cultural institutions have come together to release a sector-wide statement regarding the collective extension (in practice, though no longer mandated) of vaccination and mask policies. This statement is for the purpose of solidarity within the cultural community.

For up-to-date requirements and recommendations for those working within a unionized sector; or to be referenced as Best Practices:

Please note:
Due to recent changes to NYS COVID-19 Restrictions and New York Forward Industry Guidance, some of the below recommendations have been archived or labelled as a best practice for general maintenance of public health within the workplace. The archived sections are still included within the content of these Standard Recommendations for reference and as a resource should a business wish to continue to abide by archived guidance.

1. PEOPLE

A Note on Equity

As you think through safety for you, your space, co-workers, and audiences while you practice, teach, manage spaces and even perform again, consider that these practices and regulations do not affect everyone equally, and that efforts should also be made to create equity among peers as well as the people attending events and lessons. Building regulatory measures for safety from the spread of COVID-19 has required the implementation of tracing protocols, data gathering, health screenings and behavioral guidelines, and these measures are being deployed in contexts where there already exist other systems of surveillance and security that disproportionately affect people along lines of disability, race, immigration status, and gender. Furthermore, during a health care crisis just as the one we are living through, access to vaccination, stable housing, testing, employment, reliable information, and even personal protective equipment has been more challenging in working class communities of color.  What this could mean to your organization is that while COVID-19 safety is a priority, you and your coworkers should manage to navigate how each regulation affects people from various social backgrounds differently. 

Protocols around whether a person is vaccinated, on what type of documentation they carry, or how their employment networks are informed during tracing processes, while addressing efforts to control the spread of a virus, carry a variety of biases that fall on racial and class lines, potentially making your spaces more difficult and indeed less safe for disabled people, working class folk, people of color, and non-citizens. Sharing disability status, or it becoming known due to surveillance, can be quite punitive. For this reason, providing accessibility accommodations, even if not requested, supports disabled folks who do not feel safe openly identifying. What you can do to address this systemic bias is to adapt regulations to make space for the needs and requests of the people you work with and your audiences. For example, valid and important concerns about data gathering might arise from immigrant folk in your working community, and you’ll need to adapt those regulations in ways that honor those concerns. You might need to speak with directly affected folk about what other systems of care, tracing and travel safety you can set up that are informed by their needs and concerns. Before thinking about security or law enforcement support for de-escalation needs that might arise, you should look into other alternative ways of upholding your space regulations and meeting de-escalation needs. Directly affected communities can perhaps point to wants that you should consider when training staff and co-workers. 

A safer space is not made through a proclamation of safety or welcoming, but through listening and adaptation processes that involve the wellbeing of people that are affected by an issue. As you review these guidelines and different scenarios, consider their implementation as opportunities to create listening space for directly affected communities and to adapt to their needs and concerns. You’ll have a stronger sense of unity, and ultimately, safety, this way.

PEOPLE: Classification

Independent dance workers, note that your activities are likely considered moderate or high risk unless you are a soloist. The “type of dance risk” will vary based on the actual activities you plan to engage in and when, such as: 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. 

Independent dance workers that are unionized, be sure to review your union guidance, as it may further classify your type of work and set additional regulations. Your employer and/or Responsible Parties should be aware of this guidance, but if not, please direct them to these resources to ensure they are working in alignment: 

  • 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 is 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, designed with the unique work environments of film and television production in mind. 

PEOPLE: Physical Distancing

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be aware of the various pod, bubble, or cohort systems that your employer or dance company may employ, such as:

  • A “bubbling” model, 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.  
  • A cohort model for internal groups, like a 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, before 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 another internal point of contact cannot legally save or track detailed personal test information; they can merely track the date and “pass/fail.” If you are not comfortable sharing a screenshot or paper trail of test results, consider providing this information over an unrecorded, password-protected zoom meeting (visually, without a 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 in 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
  • Business model adjustment to create a cohort model for external groups, like dance classes and client rental bookings:
    • Note that when the individuals are not employees, the cohort model will need to be more lenient and focused on internal management and on-site health screenings as opposed to the individual testing, quarantining, and travel decisions of external parties.
    • Internally, the goal would be to reduce exposure by:
      • Instead of drop-in classes offered to the public at large, making multiple dance class sessions available for sign up over a specific period on different days or staggered within the same day.
      • Instead of ad hoc rentals offered to the public at large, prioritizing larger-scale rental commitments like lockouts, space partnerships, those with clients who have consistent space needs over a specific 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

ARCHIVED: Independent dance workers, 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 when taping off dance areas in a studio, theater, and/or performing arts centers

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, arrive with dance clothes or costumes on or under street clothes, whenever possible, to avoid communal gathering in dressing rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, 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 you or other dance workers 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 you and/or 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.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, 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.”

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider limiting your work to one group or project at a time to reduce exposure to too many people. When this is not possible, consider increasing the frequency of your COVID testing to ensure that you are not putting anyone else’s health at risk.

PEOPLE: Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces

“Enclosed Spaces” are meant to encompass spaces without external ventilation such as windows and may include restrooms, elevators, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and some studio spaces.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be 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.

PEOPLE: On-Site Activity

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider these steps for a comfortable transition back to the indoor or outdoor studio/theater:

  • Establish (or ask for) clear communication and safety agreements and protocols with all company members about re-entry to the field.
  • Offer (or ask for) collective and anonymous methods of gathering dancer feedback and comfort level before reopening and on an ongoing basis.
  • Share (or ask for) any communication provided by the studio(s), theater(s), or performing arts center(s) you are working with.
  • Be flexible (or ask for flexibility) as you schedule dance activities (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 (or ask for) 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 (or ask for) 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 (or ask for) a general “Dance Company Plan for Outdoor Activity” for all outdoor dance activities and measures the company agrees to make above, beyond, and/or in addition to the venue/Responsible Party’s safety measures. Provisions can include:
    • Temperature and weather-related parameters
    • Water and bio-break policy:  including additional time to access facilities that may be further away than if in a studio setting
    • Accessibility of outdoor space, facilities, and environment
    • Game plan for handling potential interactions with the public (if rehearsing in a public outdoor space) 

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, ask what the “whistleblowing” method (that allows for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys) is for you to share if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if you see someone not complying with health and safety measures.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be sure to consistently use facilities’ digital pre-registration, pre-space booking, and pre-ticket reservations to book class, space, and/or buy tickets.

BEST PRACTICE: The following are recommendations for dancers and dance workers participating in outdoor performances or festivals:

  • Determine what “safe” interaction means for you, your dance company, or group, based on individual or group comfort levels, agreements, the implementation of any bubbling, pod, or cohort model, and how many artists or groups are being presented.
  • Ask for clarity on what the agreement is with the outdoor venue or festival, who is the Responsible Party in this instance, for safety protocols and support, along with any additional measures you, your dance company, or group wishes to and will independently enforce.
  • Adhere to socially distant 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.), keeping in mind that it is best practice to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from the public at all times.
  • Understand whether or not a live audience is allowed, based on the size and nature of the outdoor space and its ability to accommodate both performers and the public/audience members safely.
  • Adhere to socially distant 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.
  • Wear face masks at all times, unless you are explicitly allowed to remove them for the full or part of the performance. 
    • Note that “Dancers may temporarily remove their face covering during performances or rehearsals, or when it interferes with a core activity such as 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.
  • Anticipate a disclaimer in performance promotion about the possibility of an understudy or change of repertory in the instance that you or another member of your company is confirmed to have COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms near or around the performance date.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be aware that limited on-site staffing across studios, theaters, and performing arts centers may mean a more limited capacity for production elements and support.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker who typically has on-site audiences,

  • Be sure to comply with all recommendations that apply to anyone entering the studio, theater, or performing arts center (e.g. mask-wearing, health screening, social distance, etc.)
  • Further, consider doing the following:
    • Encourage the prevention of 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, abide by restricted capacity limits and any fixed or flexible audience seating recommendations, such as ensuring 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.

If you are a dancer or dance worker 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.

ARCHIVED: If you are a solo dancer or dance worker, 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/Parties.

PEOPLE: Workplace Activity

If you are a dancer or dance worker who is a member of a company, ask for any new or updated safe workforce policies and procedures about workday schedules, remote time, lunch breaks, sick leave policy, and benefits.

PEOPLE: Movement & Commerce

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider making the following travel requests of your company and/or group:

  • Can dancers be provided transportation or a stipend to avoid public transit?
  • Can classes, rehearsals, and other dance activities be strategically scheduled so that dancers can avoid public transit during rush hours? 
  • Can we use rehearsal locations close to where dancers live so that dancers may walk and/or bike?

TOURING: If you are a dance workers who typically tours, note state, national, and international travel restrictions and updates. The following are recommendations as you plan future touring engagements:

  • Consider your comfort level in resuming touring. 
  • Request that all social distancing, PPE, and hygiene protocols remain in place for dancers and audiences.
  • Confirm from those planning the tour that additional safety measures will be budgeted for, confirm what those measures are, and understand the implications if you choose to not participate close to the touring date.

Be aware of and communicate these current requirements for international travel:

  • President Biden recently announced that starting the week of December 6, all inbound international travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within the 24 hours prior to departure (this one-day rule takes the place of the previous 72-hour-advance regulation). Either a rapid antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (like a PCR test) will be accepted. Learn more via the CDC about what types of Covid-19 tests are acceptable under this order.
  • The following rules apply, as per the CDC’s International Travel Requirements:
    • U.S Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants traveling internationally to the USA
      • no vaccine requirement to re-enter the U.S.
      • Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel.
    • Non-U.S. Citizens, Non-U.S. Immigrants:
      • You must be fully vaccinated to travel to the United States by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa). Only limited exceptions apply.
      • Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel. 
  • The CDC strongly recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants. People who are not fully vaccinated should follow additional recommendations before, during, and after travel.

2. PLACES

Air Handling Systems

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be mindful of the air-conditioning and/or fan direction within your space, and avoid lining up or dancing in that airflow path.

  • 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. 
  • Talk to your manager or the manager of the space about what has been implemented to ensure proper ventilation. 
  • Follow any directions or signage in the space about keeping windows/doors open.
  • Follow any direction or signage in the space about adjusting fan or AC settings.

PLACES: Protective Equipment

Independent dance workers, consider the following when dancing in a mask:

  • 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 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. 
    • You may require multiple masks to get through the day. 
    • If your mask becomes saturated with moisture from breathing or sweat 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 next use.
    • Ironing on the highest setting can also disinfect the mask after washing and drying.
    • There are now multiple commercial reusable mask options available for use during dance/exercise. Check out an article of recommended face masks for exercise.

PLACES: Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider having additional hand sanitizer for your regular use, especially when in enclosed or shared spaces.

ARCHIVED: To all dancers and dance workers: Participate in digital training on COVID-19 safety including hand and respiratory hygiene, PPE protocols and access, and cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures, and explore ongoing, regular training sessions. Example resources include: 

PLACES: Phased Reopening

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider the timing of your end goal:

  • Does it make sense for you and other dancers to return to the studios to condition if safe performance cannot happen until months later?
  • How will you make space to recondition your and other dancers’ endurance and strength after such an extended and unusual layoff/industry pause? 
    • Since you have had to condition in smaller spaces, on different floor surfaces, and/or with varied instruction, you will need an appropriate and graded progression back to full dancing that will require a minimum of four to six (46) weeks depending on your company and dance genre. 

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider suggesting phased-in dance activity to your company/group, such as one with the following steps:

  • Quarantine for 14 days before resuming regular rehearsal/training activity to establish a cohort.
  • Have a dance company liaison 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 your dance company. 
  • Prioritize any solo, duet, or trio repertoire before resuming group repertoire, as much as possible. 
  • Integrate digital media for streamed teaching or performance, as much as possible.
  • 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)

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider suggesting a phased-in approach for dancers to your company/group:

  • 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 you can return to dance in a safe and sustainable way.

PLACES: Communications Plan

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker who is a member of a company or organization, consider asking for your employer’s reopening plans, safety protocols, and contact information for points of contact/site safety managers/liaisons if it has not been readily provided to you. If not explicitly included, additionally ask for:

  • A plan for addressing those (employees or public) who refuse to comply with NYS guidance and/or the facility safety protocols.
  • A written agreement in place for dancers to confirm agreement or discuss alternate options

REQUIRED: Independent dance workers, it is required by the NY Hero Act that you establish a written agreement with your company staff, group, or dancers 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/protocol 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 an hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • Include a disclaimer of your plan for data gathering and confidentiality for health and tracing purposes, along with how data will be erased/destroyed, with an option to sign, date, request higher levels of confidentiality or opt out of this part of the agreement.
  • 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.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker who leads a project, collective, or company, 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 project, collective, or 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.

If you are a dancer or dance worker who leads a project, collective, or company, 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 squarely to the person and not their companion.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, consider communicating (e.g. on your website, in rental agreements, in class and space confirmation emails) and/or asking what cleaning and disinfectant products are being used in your rehearsal space to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions.

3. PROCESSES

Screening & Testing

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, 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.

ARCHIVED: Independent dance workers, please consider participating in health screenings before any indoor or outdoor activities/gatherings, and understand that Responsible Parties may also require more than one (1) screening per day (e.g. if you exit and re-enter the facility).

If you are a dancer or dance worker who does not have health insurance, know that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. Those seeking health insurance may consider visiting:

Independent dance workers, know your rights when it comes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks. Health checks that use only pass/fail are permissible, whereas your actual temperature and any additional health details are your private information and are not to be shared or tracked.

  • If you are a disabled artist, 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. 

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, be aware of and, when relevant, communicate in advance what information individuals are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, ask or determine who the Responsible Parties’ central point of contact is. 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.

PROCESSES: Vaccination

Though no longer mandated by the city (except for the still-mandated private sector Workplace Vaccination Requirement), Responsible Parties may choose to continue following the vaccination policies outlined in the Key to NYC Pass program (original date of effect August 16, 2021) to maximize health and safety in their spaces. This program required that, as of January 29, 2022, all people over the age of 5 are required to show proof of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO (except for those 18 years and older who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) for indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues). The mayor also announced 5-11-year-old children were required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. These requirements also mean that employees working at these locations must be fully vaccinated. People 18 and older were also required to show identification along with their proof of vaccination.

Resources on vaccines and the Key to NYC program can be found on the Vaccines page of this website. Responsible Parties should be prepared to, at any time, adjust and adapt between various levels of danger zones in the event of positive cases within the organization, an increase in COVID cases in the area, and/or the emergence of new COVID variants of concern.

Excelsior Pass is a digital ecosystem that enables individuals to store digital proof of test results and/or vaccine status and businesses and venues to verify these items without accessing personal health data. Learn more and download the app on the New York Forward website. In considering the use of Excelsior Pass, account for the many data privacy and legitimate concerns from immigrant communities all over New York.

NYC COVID Safe App is part of the “Key to NYC Pass” initiative to provide proof of vaccination. Many New York City employers, businesses, and venues are requiring verification of immunization or weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test for their workforce and patrons. Use this app to store and present the necessary documentation to verify that you have met these requirements. The documentation you upload into this app is not shared with anyone and stays on your phone only.

PROCESSES: Tracing & Tracking

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance, reach out to your point of contact to determine if it covers you in the instance that you contract COVID-19 while on the job.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, remember that if you are alerted, via tracing, tracking, or another mechanism, that you have come into close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19, you are required to self-report to any and all employers at the time of alert and shall follow any protocol provided.

  • The best practice would be to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days after learning of your potential exposure.
  • Ask for a central point of contact to explain contact tracing procedures to the person who has informed or who you know has been infected. If you cannot notify their employer about having been at risk or confirmed to have COVID, consider measures to inform other employers anonymously.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker conducting or participating in outdoor performances, consider your ability to foster a safe environment with screening, tracing, and tracking capability for all dancers and audiences by using:

  • 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 the safety of yourself, other dancers, or the public this way.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, in the instance that you or dancers you work with have a confirmed case of COVID-19:

  • 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, dancers and dance workers will identify the areas of the facilities, housing, modes of travel, etc. where the infected individual visited.
  • Independent dance workers will notify any known individuals who were within six (6) feet of the infected individual, and must immediately report the instance to their employers and must quarantine for 14 days.
  • Ask for a central point of contact to explain contact tracing procedures to the person who has informed or who you know has been infected. If you cannot notify their employer about having been at risk or confirmed to have COVID, consider measures to inform other employers anonymously.
  • 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 14 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 14 days of isolation since the date the infected 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), your healthcare provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 14 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days) and you may need to finish your period of isolation at home. If testing is available in your community, your healthcare provider may recommend that you undergo repeat testing for COVID-19 to end your isolation earlier than would be done according to the criteria above. If so, you can be around others after you receive two (2) negative tests results in a row, from tests done at least 24 hours apart.
      • You only undergo repeat testing at the recommendation of your healthcare provider and that is done only if they want to end the isolation earlier than normal for the case type.

BEST PRACTICE: Independent dance workers, in the instance that you or dancers you work with have a confirmed case of COVID-19 mid-residency or tour, consider doing the following:

  • Immediately notify your employer 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 you or the dancers you work with have a confirmed case of COVID-19,” and ask your employer for further support during the isolation and/or quarantine period of 10-14 days, respectively, which may include:
    • Coordinating food, laundry service, additional per diem, and any other support possible for the company members isolating and quarantining away from home.
    • Cancelling or postponing all dance activity throughout the duration of the isolation and quarantine period.

4. OPERATOR/EMPLOYER PLANS

On September 6, Governor Kathy Hochul designated COVID-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans to prevent workplace infections. The NY HERO Act mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections and workplace safety plans. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are a dancer or dance worker, ask for and/or follow the protocols provided to you by your employer. Remember that Responsible Parties may vary depending on the dance activity you are engaging in and where (in some instances the Responsible Party may be your company; in other instances, it will be the studios, theaters, and/or performing arts centers in which your work takes place). The protocols of each Responsible Party 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 yourself, and/or filing a general or zone-based report.

ARCHIVED: Independent dance workers, please note how Responsible Parties are determining their industry classification, their ability to reopen, and the complexity of their reopening efforts:

Please note that:

  • Organizations that align with multiple industries may have more than one industry classification that is relevant. This may allow them to open certain parts of their business, but not all, which will affect how they phase their reopening. E.g.:
    • NAICS 711510 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers is currently “operating with restrictions (as of 01/27/21) — which likely applies to you; however,
    • 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 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); and
    • 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 a business selects. If they do not agree, and feel the classification should be under a different industry that is not yet allowed to reopen or has different requirements, the business may be subject to violations and/or closure.
  • Beyond the guidance that is associated with the industry, further guidance may be required and may need to be integrated into the business’ reopening plans depending on its 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.
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