We have published many audition notices here on Article19 but not one of them has ever included the paragraph, or anything approaching it, like the the one quoted below taken from an email notification for an audition with Stan Won't Dance;
"The audition process is physically and mentally demanding and we are auditioning you on the basis that you are fit and able to audition/perform. All applicants take part in the auditions at their own risk and Stan Won’t Dance is not liable for any injury incurred during, or as a result, of the audition process. All applicants must make any medical or other condition which may affect their audition or ability to perform known to us on the day before they commence the audition. By attending the audition you agree to these terms and conditions. We recommend that all applicants obtain their own medical insurance."
First of all it seems slightly patronising to tell professional dancers that the audition may be "physically demanding" because having gone through several years of training and working they may not have realised that.
More of an issue for Article19 is the medical disclaimer. It may well be expensive or impossible for the company to provide proper insurance (the legal ramifications are unclear) but for a dance company to state that "All applicants take part in the auditions at their own risk and Stan Won’t Dance is not liable for any injury incurred during, or as a result, of the audition process" is ethically and morally reprehensible.
Dancer's get hurt all the time, they get injured all the time, it's unavoidable, for the most part, and is an accepted part of the profession. However, for a dance company to essentially state that if you get hurt in their audition they couldn't care less is indicative of a profession that, for the most part, is either unwilling or unable to look after its own.
The disclaimer in SWD's audition note is basically stating that if you get hurt; "there's the door and don't let it hit you on the arse on your way out, it's not our problem!" Such a note is perhaps one of the most damning indictments we have yet seen in writing of dancers being treated like a transferable commodity. It doesn't matter if one gets hurt because there are plenty more where they came from.
We understand that SWD is not alone in adopting this attitude, be it for financial, legal or other motivations, however the reasons are irrelevant because the situation is patently unacceptable. Dance companies and dance makers need to be front and center in protecting the health and well being of dancers in auditions, in class, on-stage and wherever else they may be in service of the industry.
Dance is inherently risky and there is no way that risk can be removed completely. The next best thing is to fully insure any and all professional dance activity so that those taking part will at least have proper medical cover should something go wrong.
This will require money of course and it is up to dance makers and policy makers to make sure that money is in place to adequately protect those most at risk in dance, the dancers themselves. Of course this will require those in a position to do so to be vocal and outspoken on this issue, holding your breath whilst waiting for that to happen is not recommended.