Staff Writer Suli Adams reached out to Yasmina Ramzy to ask her thoughts on organizing dance troupes. The following article was originally published in the Gilded Serpent and is being shared with Yasmina's permission.
Yasmina: "This is a question I answered in 2009 in my "Ask Yasmina" Column for The Gilded Serpent." Question: We are a newly formed troupe and are currently discussing how to go about the details of who pays for the costumes and other expenses. Could you please give us some advice? Answer: Every ensemble is different but the answer to this question is really in your objectives or mission statement. If you are a collective, perhaps all duties are shared and thus members may be responsible for their own costumes and other costs, ultimately sharing in the revenue as well. This is often a good starter point for most amateur ensembles. However, it can get cumbersome when someone leaves or new members join. Always a good idea is to buy extra fabric and materials for future costumes as well as insist that those leaving be willing to sell their costume back to the group. More often than not, the more energetic, conscientious and hard-working members end up taking on the brunt of the work or even the creative process. If and when this happens, it is a good idea to acknowledge this when deciding how to divvy up the income and acknowledging credit. As an ensemble becomes larger and more professional, it will find that it is more efficient and effective if it models itself like a professional company with defined roles such as "dance artist," "artistic director," "choreographer" "wardrobe mistress," "rehearsal coach," "administrator," "manager," etc. Some members may wear a few of these hats or one of the hats may be shared by a number of people, but it is always a good idea to be clear on what the roles are and who is responsible for them. There is a fantastic movie called "The Company" (USA), which I believe every member of every dance ensemble should watch. At the end of the movie, you realize that the star of the movie is not a person but rather "the company" itself which acts like an autonomous, living, breathing entity that has the personality and many traits and complexities of a human being. (Also, l love the movie because it features my idol, Canadian choreographer Robert Desrosiers.) And just like a human being, every now and then, you need to get your thoughts or "ensemble members" together and re assess your mission statement as you grow and evolve. Lead A Dynamic Troupe with Yasmina Ramzy — Yasmina Ramzy Arts