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Bringing these projects to fruition requires
dancers to get strategic about finding funding.
In 2006, maverick contemporary dancer Louise
Lecavalier founded Fou Glorieux to commission new works of contemporary dance. To
fund the creations, she secured government
grants and forged partnerships with presenters
interested in backing her work. She paid her
choreographers a flat fee based on the length of
the piece, plus royalties for each performance.
Whelan also relied on outside funding,
including arts foundations and patrons happy
to support her endeavor once she personally
reached out and told them about it. “I sent a
lot of letters and emails seeking support from
people I thought might be able to help or
guide me toward others who could,” she says.
To fund her commission, Baskerville ap-
plied for all three levels of government grants,
receiving installments of between CDN$5,000
and CDN$10,000 at a time over a four-year
period. She worked accordingly, continuing
with her project only when certain she had
the funds. She constructed a budget, paying
her artists 35 to 40 percent above the minimum CDN$26 hourly wage recommended by
Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, the union
on whose board she sits. “It’s why the process
took so long,” Baskerville says. “Paying well
was important to me.” Baskerville also paid
herself for her work behind the scenes. “Not
all dancers will think to do that,” she says.
“Because we do so much unpaid work already,
we start not to know our value.”
“It’s a huge learning curve,” says Baskerville,
now considering a future career as an arts
administrator as a result of her experience hir-
ing her own choreographer. “You are forced
to think of the longevity of the work instead
of just the immediate performance. It’s also in-
credibly empowering because you have a sense
of ownership. You’re in control of the future
of the work, where it could go next in terms of
being seen by others and in what context.”
For Whelan, commissioning choreogra-
phers is a way of prolonging her dancing career.
“As an older and more established dancer, being
the one making the decisions is imperative for
me,” Whelan says. “I need to be able to dictate
what I do next and how I do it. And more than
anything, it’s important to find collaborators
who are right for me at this stage of my life.” n