What safety measures should you think about…
Professional dancers and instructors bear a particular responsibility in maintaining a safe and respectful environment in the dance community. It is critical to address potential issues of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, which have been spotlighted globally by the #MeToo movement.
Professionals should be proactive in preventing sexual harassment by fostering a culture of respect, consent, and communication. They should be trained to recognize signs of harassment, and in handling such situations appropriately. Clear guidelines and boundaries should be established for interactions between dancers.
Dance organizers should create a well-defined code of conduct to be enforced at all events, outlining acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and ensuring everyone’s understanding of what constitutes harassment. There should also be a transparent and supportive process for reporting issues, protecting victims and handling accusations fairly.
Safety also extends to physical health, with professionals ensuring dance spaces are safe and suitable, and proper warm-up and cool-down routines are followed to minimize injuries.
Promoting a safe dance environment helps ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty and joy of dance, free from worry or harm.
When organising dance events, it’s crucial to be mindful of allergies to ensure the health and safety of all attendees. Clear labelling of all food and drink is essential, indicating common allergens like nuts, dairy, gluten, and shellfish. Staff should be trained to understand the seriousness of food allergies, and equipped to handle emergency situations. Also, consider providing allergy-friendly options to cater for all attendees. Creating awareness within the community about the importance of respecting and acknowledging allergies is key. Doing so will foster an inclusive, caring environment that takes into consideration the well-being of every member, allowing everyone to focus on the joy of dancing.
Implement a code of conduct
Implementing a Code of Conduct within your dance community is an important step to create an inclusive, respectful, and safe environment. Here’s a roadmap:
- Involve the Community: Assemble a group of representatives, including leaders, instructors, and dancers, to discuss, draft, and revise the code of conduct together. This promotes buy-in and community ownership.
- Clarity and Accessibility: The Code of Conduct should be clear, concise, and readily accessible. It should outline expected behavior, unacceptable actions, and consequences for breaching the code.
- Newcomer Orientation: When new members join, ensure they’re aware of the Code of Conduct. This could be done in a friendly and welcoming manner during their first visit or incorporated into an induction process.
- Community Volunteers: Recruit volunteers who are respected in the community to help uphold the code. They can serve as role models, and also provide guidance when members have questions or concerns.
- Enforcement: There should be a mechanism in place to report violations and resolve issues in a fair and prompt manner. Consequences must be consistent and transparent.
- Regular Reviews: As your community evolves, so should your Code of Conduct. Schedule periodic reviews to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Remember, small, respectful conversations can play a major role in keeping the community aligned with the Code of Conduct, creating an atmosphere where everyone feels safe and welcomed to express themselves through dance. Find an elaborate example of a code of conduct here.
Organisers have a pivotal role in maintaining safety and trust within their dance communities. In case of sexual harassment:
- Immediate Intervention: If you witness harassment, intervene immediately. This could mean stepping in to halt an inappropriate interaction or removing the offending party from the event.
- Listen and Support: If someone reports harassment after the fact, listen without judgement. Acknowledge their courage in coming forward, assure them you take the matter seriously, and provide emotional support.
- Gather Information: Collect details from all parties involved, and any potential witnesses. Document this information for any future action.
- Consult with the Victim: Be careful about escalating the situation without the victim’s consent. If they want to report to the police, support them in doing so. If not, respect their decision while maintaining community safety.
- Awareness and Education: Use these situations, with discretion, to inform and educate your community about harassment, its effects, and how to prevent it.
- Collaborative Action: Engage with other organisers, instructors, and dance school owners to understand the issue in your area, establish common procedures and policies, and ensure a unified stance against harassment.
- Legal Consultation: Ensure you’re familiar with laws around sexual harassment in your locality, and consult with legal professionals if necessary.
Remember, creating a safe, respectful dance environment is a shared responsibility. We must strive to discourage inappropriate behavior, empower victims, and stand firm against harassment. Most important is consent in dance to avoid situations that the dance partner doesn’t enjoy.