The Boring Stuff

What do I mean with the *boring stuff*? It’s simply all the little things that have to do with dancing, but we often leave on the side, ignore or just don’t bother finding out about because, truly, they’re not as fun as dancing. And if you’re a dancer who find themselves on their own, sometimes it’s difficult to know who to ask for help. Requirements can be different depending on where you are, how you are training, and a lot of other circumstances, so asking the Internet Hive Mind can often give you confusing answers.

This series of posts came about because a few dancers said it would be good to have all the information collected and discussed in a single place. So what I’ll try to do is put together information that I wish I had had when I started years ago, and that might come useful.

Public performances season for the northern hemisphere is in full swing as the summer arrives. If you approach local organisers to dance in public, you might be asked whether you have Public Liability Insurance (from now on, PLI) and you might be asked to do a Risk Assessment (RA). Let’s start with those, as you might be asked for both when trying to find public events to dance at.

Public Liability Insurance

We all hate paying for insurance, until it’s time to call on it, so you might think you don’t need it at all. How does insurance apply to you or your group? You can think you’ll be careful and nothing will ever happen, but you can only control certain aspects of your performance or teaching, and you can never control other people’s behaviour. If you have a member of the public walking into you twirling an assaya, who decided that the fragility of their skull is something you need to assess in microseconds, you will be glad you got that insurance should anything happen. It’s amazing how many people think that a clearly marked performance area within an announced and permitted event should not be anything of their concern. It’s also amazing how many parents decide that their little darlings look cute “dancing” with the colourfully dressed ladies and set aside any safety concerns, mostly for you.

As a dancer, insurance is essential because it protects you and those around you. It can also cover you if you get injured or your property damaged. For example, if a member of the audience trips over your equipment during a performance and gets hurt, walks into you wielding a prop, or if you accidentally damage a venue during a rehearsal, public liability insurance can cover the costs and any legal fees or compensation you might have to pay. PLI might also come packed with other insurance to cover you in the opposite direction, if someone accidentally breaks your equipment, or even if you get injured while teaching or performing. Insurance is like a safety net that helps you focus on your passion without worrying about potential accidents.

So now that you’ve covered the whys, let’s look at the wheres. A lot of companies that cover insurance for sports activities do cover dance teaching and performance as demonstrations. A lot of dancer associations also have umbrella policies that they will extend to you with membership. Depending on how many classes you teach, how many people, and where, the cost of this is a bit smaller than going on your own, and it will be up to you to decide whether you prefer to cut your own deals -likely to give you a more flexible cover for *exactly* what you need- or the group option, which probably offers support/advice from other members and maybe lower cost, but that might be restrictive for other reasons, or not available. For instance, if you dance fusion, and the association is exclusively for Middle Eastern styles, or if you perform or teach with swords or knives, and the option is not covered under their umbrella coverage, these might not be suitable.

In the UK, MOSAIC offers an option of umbrella insurance with your membership. There are a number of insurers that offer bellydancing as one of their options for sports. For the rest of the world, YMMV, but searching for “public liability insurance for dancers” might be a good first step

When do you need insurance?

  • If you are teaching, even a small class, even in your own home
  • If you host any public event.
  • If hiring rehearsal locations you might be asked for some proof of PLI even if you are a closed troupe or collective.
  • If you are performing in public

When do you *not* need insurance?

  • For practicing on your own
  • For individual or group hire of a rehearsal space
  • For home practice with friends

You’ll notice I’ve put hiring of space under both. This is because I’ve had both situations, some places -notably council spaces- demanding proof of PLI, and more traditional private spaces not asking for it.

Risk Assessment

When applying to dance somewhere you might be asked to provide a Risk Assessment (RA). What is this? A RA identifies any potential hazards or dangers that might arise to you or others because of your performance. As a dancer, you need to make sure the environment is safe for both you and your audience. For example, you need to check for things like slippery floors, obstacles on the dance floor, or low-hanging lights. By doing a risk assessment, you can take steps to minimize the risk of accidents or injuries, keeping yourself and others safe while you dance.

How do you do this? The UK Health and Safety Executive has a helpful guide for this, including templates. Head over to their website to find the templates. There are some examples (none appropriate for dancing by the way) but reading them might help you fill in the RA. You will need to think of worst possible case scenario in each case. Asking other dancers for horror stories might help you figure out what those risks might be and how to potentially mitigate them. This risk assessment includes yourself, your props, your costumes, equipment, cabling, etc. If dancing at events, a lot of this will be out of your control, like the audio equipment. But whether your sword hits a light fixture or your finger cymbal goes flying and hits someone’s head can be under your control, so again, think worst possible scenario, what could be the outcome, and what can you do to prevent this.

For the rest of the world, the rules for Risk Assessment will probably be different, so consult your event organiser. Ask them if they already have a form they can give you, or whether they can offer you a pre-filled one as example of the kind of RA they’re after. Overall, use your common sense. While it’s technically possible that a thunderstorm will start while you’re dancing, and your audience might be struck by lighting, this is an over the top scenario… The reality should probably be that if there is rain, you will not want to dance because the floor would become too slippery. So there’s your risk; the preventive action is to check the weather report and don’t dance if it is raining or it looks like it will start to any time.


Both PLI and RA are things that we don’t enjoy thinking about because they start with the assumption that something *will inevitably* go wrong. Thinking positively is a noble endeavour, but thinking positively won’t help you avoid a kid walking in front of you as you are spinning at 130bpm. So if this is bringing you down and you want a fun spin on the above, I’d suggest thinking of the absolutely most ridiculous scenarios, something that would only happen to Wile E Coyote. Make it fun, and you will navigate it more easily, and when the actual performance comes, you’ll be more at ease.

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