Understanding Pay Rates in the Dance Industry

Whether you’re a dance teacher, performer, part of a dance company, or a dance studio owner, it’s crucial to grasp the various pay rates and conditions that apply to your role. The first step is determining whether the worker is classified as an employee or a contractor.

Employee vs. Contractor: Deciphering the Distinction

Employees are integral to someone else’s business, while contractors are essentially self-employed individuals running their own operations. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to correctly classify workers and understand that their working arrangements differ based on this classification. You can refer to guidance from the Australian Tax Office to discern between the two.

Employer Obligations

Ensuring that all workers receive appropriate pay rates and conditions is a paramount responsibility. The most accurate reference for this information is the relevant Modern Award. Keep in mind that these guidelines are subject to regular updates.

The Live Performance Award 2020 serves as a valuable resource to ensure that staff receive correct wages, leave, breaks, superannuation, and a safe working environment.

Tax and Superannuation Obligations

Properly identifying workers directly impacts your tax and super obligations. For instance, you’ll need to withhold tax (PAYG) for employees, whereas contractors are generally responsible for their own tax matters. However, contracted artists engaged in performance, presentation, or participation in music, plays, or dance are considered employees for superannuation purposes, requiring you to contribute to their super.

Contractor Pay and Conditions

Determining appropriate pay for independent artists involves considering a variety of factors. In 2022, the Theatre Network Australia reported an average contractor rate of $63.21 for established organizations. For private tuition, the average rate was $77.18 per hour, and $301.95 for a 2-hour masterclass.

Additionally, Dancers Australia established a minimum pay scale for professional dancers in small-scale stage and screen performances, linked to a Code of Practice. You can find detailed rates for various categories on their website.

Factors Influencing Contractor Pay Rates

When setting contractor pay rates, it’s essential to consider factors such as experience, skill, industry knowledge, time spent in the field, and individual profile. Don’t forget to factor in superannuation, which can either be included in the hourly rate or negotiated separately. The current superannuation rate is 11%, slated to increase to 11.5% from July 1, 2024.

Employee Pay and Conditions

For Australian employees, there are minimum pay rates and conditions outlined in Modern Awards specific to each industry. In the dance sector, commonly used awards include the Live Performance Award 2020 and the Fitness Industry Award 2020. Employers have the option to provide pay and conditions above the award rate through an enterprise agreement.

Some large professional touring companies may have such agreements in place, so if you’re a company dancer, it’s advisable to check with your employer.

Pay Rates for Dancers and Choreographers

The Live Performance Award 2020 covers most employers and employees in the live performance industry across Australia. It outlines the minimum rates for various job classifications. Professional touring companies may offer pay and conditions above the modern award rate.

Pay Rates for Dance Teachers

Privately-run Studios

Dance teachers employed by privately-run dance schools are covered by the Fitness Industry Award 2020. This agreement sets out minimum pay rates and other conditions.

Primary or Secondary Schools

Full-time, part-time, and casual teachers in Victorian schools fall under the Educational Services (Teachers) Award. However, this does not encompass dancers or dance teachers brought in for individual or small group classes. If you are employed as a dance teacher in a school environment you might like to follow the advice for contractors.

Looking Ahead

In 2023, Dancers Australia plans to introduce a specific Dance Teacher Rate Table as part of their Code of Practice after conducting sector-wide consultations.

While qualifications are not regulated and the industry grapples with performance and recording rights in the digital world, we encourage artists and employers to look beyond “minimum wage”. Pay rates and conditions that reflect the intended use, performance environment, experience, training and professional profile will ensure the whole creative ecology can flourish and the sector is economically sustainable.


Minimum Wage and Conditions

Legally mandated baseline rates of pay and award conditions for Australian employees, set by the Fair Work Commission.


Legally recognised contracts between employers and employees stipulating minimum rates of pay for various job descriptions.

Live Performance Australia (LPA)

An organisation representing employers in the live performance sector, offering support with workplace issues. Visit the LPA website.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)

The union representing most performers in Australia, including actors, dancers, musicians, journalists, and more. Visit the MEAA website.