1) “Do you do pointe work?” Some dancers do and some don’t. Just because a dancer has classical ballet training does not automatically meant that they will be able to do pointe work.
2) “Do you have any injury I should be aware of?” Dancers tend to know their limits well and will not undertake work that will cause them to aggravate an injury but it’s as well to ask so that you can plan your shoot around the things that the dancer can do rather than those that will cause problems.
3) “What time have you got to leave?” This is another way of saying “Are you working tonight?” Many dancers work in the evenings or at other odd times and you need to make sure your subject is away for their other job on time. Remember that if you say “We will shoot from 1pm-5pm” you may plan to finish shooting at 5pm and then clear up and leave the studio at 6pm where as the dancer might expect to leave at 5pm.
4) “What dance training do you have?” It’s not always appropriate to ask this. Have a look at the dancers profile or web site and you will probably find all you need to know, as most dancers are proud of their training. This is an important question if your potential subject has no dance shots in their portfolio.
5) “What style of dance do you prefer?” It’s no use booking a ballet dancer if you want Flamenco images although many dancers cover more than one style.
The following are more appropriate for TF shoots…
6) “What images do you want?” If you are doing a TF shoot where you will provide images to the dancer you should take particular care to get the right shots. Many dances will be looking for a particular type of work so the images you supply are for real value to them.
7) “Do you know any other dancers who would be interested in a shoot?” Always a good question to ask. If you plan on shooting for more than an hour or two then it’s far more profitable to work with two dancers so they can each take breaks while you continue shooting.
Things to tell the dancer…
Apart from the really obvious stuff about locations and times etc it’s worth letting the person you are working with know a few things.
1) What the floor is like – If you are shooting in a studio does it have a sprung dance floor? A wooden floor? Concrete? If you are outside will you be on grass or is there likely to be loos gravel or rubbish. You don’t want to get to a location and find that the dancer is uncomfortable working on the available flooring.
2) Changing facilities – This obviously depends on the type of shoot but if you are doing a classical ballet shoot then the dancer is going to need somewhere private to change costumes. If you are doing a shoot in a public place you will find a lot of dancers are accomplished at changing under a loose dress or similar. I have even improvised a changing area out of a couple of light stands and two silver “Thermo Blankets”. Changing space is not normally a problem if you plan in advance.
There’s probably half a dozen things I have left out from the above list but hopefully you will get a few ideas to help with booking a dancer for a shoot.