FAQ for dancers

for permanent employed dancers

  • Ensemble Speakers

    Ensemble Speakers

    Many of us permanently employed dancers experience tension at some point during our employment between the way we wish our company would work and the way it actually operates. Whether it's wishing for a cleaner studio, a larger dance shoe supply, a day off after tours, or compliance with legal working hours -- ensemble speakers are the people who have the responsibility to pass on these requests to the responsible authorities, which could range from the company manager to theatre director.


    Who are the speakers and how do they get elected?

    The ensemble speakers are members of the company who volunteered and were elected by the ensemble to advocate for  the needs of the dancers  and answer their questions.. Dancers who would like to run for the Ensemble speaker positions must have been a member of the ensemble for at least 1 season and filed a nomination not less than one week before the election day. The members of the previous ensemble speaker board (Tanzgruppenvorstand) should choose an election committee. This committee is responsible for holding the election at the beginning of the season, recording the process, and informing the company of the election results. 

    The board should consist of 3 members: the chairperson, a deputy chairperson and one other member. The election of the chairperson should take place with a maximum of two secret voting rounds. In the first ballot, the candidate with the highest number of votes will be elected as the chairman. A second ballot is held only in the case of two candidates receiving the same amount of votes and then a re-vote should take place to determine who will be elected chairman. The deputy chairperson and other board members are then decided  based on who received the 2nd and 3rd highest number of votes.

    Once elected, the speakers usually stay in their position for 2 full seasons. However they can leave early if  they decide to resign from the role prematurely, leave the company, or are removed by the ensemble. The request for removal of a board member can be submitted in writing. Then the board has two weeks to schedule an ensemble meeting where a new vote should be taken with a secret ballot..  If at least two-thirds of the ensemble supports the removal of that member then they must step down from their position. If a member leaves the board then an election is held for a replacement to take their place for the remainder of their two seasons.


    What do speakers do?

    Speakers are the middlemen between the ensemble and the higher authorities of the theatre.
    Rather than taking care of requests from individual dancers, the speaker's board is there to improve and increase the flow of communication between the ensemble as a whole and the company/theatre direction. The ensemble speakers gather all the topics that are brought to their attention, discuss them with the dancers and separately with higher authorities. This helps to make the administration of the ensemble and theatre aware of the dancers’ needs.

    Frequent company meetings are the main tool to discuss ensemble issues and keep the dancers informed of the speakers’ actions. These company meetings are for members of the ensemble only (unless someone else is intentionally invited). The company meetings occur in a private space within working hours. The employer should only be present in meetings that have been arranged by them or meetings that the board has invited them to join. A protocol should be made and signed by the leading board members for every meeting. These records should be kept in a safe and organized way so that only the board members have access to them.

    Who should the speakers turn to when there is a topic that needs to be issued?

    There is a clear hierarchy of authorities in the German cultural political sphere: 

    European law


    Federal law

    Labour Contracts

    Company agreements / Work Council agreements

    Employment Contracts

    Instructions by employer


    Each authority in the list is subordinate to all the authorities listed above it, and should not contradict their policies and regulations. We, the dancers, have to comply with the orders of all the authorities above, and when we face an issue we may approach anyone of them, depending on the case.
    Many times the speakers will find themselves handling a case which does not involve violation of any of the authorities above (like simply requesting cleaner floors or functioning showers). In this case, approaching the director or manager should be sufficient. When the dancers experience a clear violation of either of the authorities above, that’s when things get more complicated.
    First, the speakers should try to address the problem to the ballet director/manager (please see below tips on how to do that). If the director is not responsive or supportive, they should try talking with the work council (please see ‘’work council’’ section), and if that is fruitless too, they should approach the theatre director (intendant). At any point of the process it is possible and even vital to get in touch with the trade union (please see ‘’trade union and collective agreements’’ section).

    Recommendations from us to you

    If you are a speaker in a company’s board, we at Dancersconnect would like to recommend you the following when approaching your director, regarding a specific issue or in a general meeting:

    + Meet with one other beforehand to discuss what you are going to say and what “stance” you take. It is important to be all in agreement before and to never contradict or disagree with each other in front of the direction/management. The key is to always appear as a united front and show support for each other.
    + Try to find a way to express the requests and needs of the ensemble in a constructive way that does not appear to be complaining.
    + Avoid talking about the ensemble as individual dancers. Always refer to the group as a whole.
    + Do not disclose voting percentages from company decisions. This is not the business of the direction/management and they should only be informed of the majority outcome of the vote.
    + Make a protocol of the discussion, underlining the outcome and conclusions of the meeting. Share this outcome with the ensemble so they remain informed.
    + Always keep the ensemble updatedwith what is happening through the regular meetings or by giving quick updates via email. Make sure that the ensemble is always agreeing with and supporting the actions of the board. The ensemble as a whole should stand together and remain united, especially when it comes to group decisions and requests.

    Dancersconnect recommends passing on the knowledge,important documents and working routine from one board to the next one. The new speakers should be able to continue working on any projects in progress and maintain the working relationships already established by previous board members.

    What kind of protection exists for the members of the speakers board?

     Members of the board should not suffer any employment disadvantages because of any of the work they do as speakers. Any violation of the working contract done by a director due to tension with the speakers is a legal base for prosecution. The chairman can ask to be free from one rehearsal each month, as a compensation for the extra work they do leading the board. 


  • Employment Contract

    Employment Contract

    Translation in progress

  • Work council (Betriebs-/Personalrat)

    Work council (Betriebs-/Personalrat)

    Published in December 2021

    If the members of the ballet ensemble have problems that need to be addressed, and if turning to the ballet director in person has not been fruitful, then the speakers of the ensemble should turn to the work council.


    What is the work council?

    The work council (Betriebs-/Personalrat) is a committee of people who represent the employees of a specific theatre in front of their employer (on a voluntary basis). The delegates of the council are most commonly employees of the theatre themselves, who get elected by the rest of the co-workers every 4 years.


    What is the job of the work council?

    The work council plays a role in many fields, and can be perceived as the co-workers committee of the theatre. The council’s role can be roughly summarized in:

    • Making sure employees’ rights are being observed and respected.

    • Keeping record of suggestions and complaints from employees, and urging heads of departments to look into them.  

    • Taking part in meetings with department directors and union representatives, where in-house agreements can be formulated. In-house agreements are sets of rules that apply for an individual ensemble/theatre and are not included in the working contract or the NV Bühne. These agreements help to easily overcome issues and difficulties that concern specific sectors or groups.

    • Ensuring integration and promotion of severely disabled people in the working place.

    • Engaging in discussions about safety and security in the workplace, reducing the frequency of working accidents.

    • The council is granted with unique authority and rights in order to ensure fair conditions for the employees in a safe working space.

    Why don’t we always know that the work council exists? 

    Since we, the dancers, can have the council representing our needs and applying force on our employers, many times our employers would rather not have us knowing about this possibility. Our employers would rather have us complying with situations, without us acting on making change for the benefit of the dancers. It is altogether important to find out who the Betriebsrat in your theatre is and at least have the ensemble speakers in communication with it. This way we may more successfully promote dancers’ issues that are not being solved properly through conventional talk with the directors

  • Unemployment Benefit (Arbeitslosengeld I)

    Unemployment Benefit (Arbeitslosengeld I)

    If your contract with a German dance company has come to an end and you find yourself unemployed, the German unemployment system can support you financially. This financial support is called Arbeitslosengeld I, which is there to aid your search for a new job and/or if you have a break between contracts. 

    The following information is for those who have been employed in a German theatre or private company, having contributed to the German Social Security System for at least 12 out of the past 30 months, and are still eligible to live and work in Germany. If this criteria does not apply to you, please view ‘’Unemployment benefit’’ in the freelancers section, or visit: arbeitsagentur.de

    For more information please visit the following sites:



    What is the first step I need to take as soon as I'm notified of future unemployment? 

    If you have a permanent position in a theatre (a twelve-month contract that renews itself automatically unless terminated) you should be notified of the end of your working contract no later than the last day of October. To claim unemployment benefits in the future, you first need to register yourself as a jobseeker in the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). It is best to contact the job centre as soon as you are notified of the termination of your contract as they can assist you in looking for a new position and hopefully prevent you from becoming unemployed. If you are only given short notice before your unemployment you should contact your local employment agency within three days of being notified to register as a jobseeker.

    This process can be done on the Federal Employment Agency’s website, through their free hotline, or in person.

    Find your local employment agency here.

    Free hotline: 0800 4 555500

    We also recommend that you view our Q&A about transition.

    If you wish to find a new job in the dance field, an agency such as the ZAV can be of help (please view respective Q&A).


    When can I apply for Arbeitslosengeld I?

    If your employment ends, you have registered as a jobseeker, but have not found a new job your next step is to register as unemployed. We recommend that you register as unemployed three months in advance of your projected unemployment. If you find a job within the following three months you can cancel your unemployment status. Notably, the latest you can register as unemployed is your first official day after your employment contract ends. 


    Two ways to register for unemployment:

    1. Online - Registration for unemployment can be done using this link: web.arbeitsagentur.de 

    2. In person - to register in person you will need your ID card or passport, visa or residence permit, and certificate of registration from a city hall. Once you are registered as unemployed, an application for unemployment benefit can be filed on the same occasion (in person, on the website, or over the phone). Your benefit will be transferred to your account at the end of each month.


    How much money will I receive and for how long?

    The amount of money you are eligible to receive, as well as the length of time you will receive the Arbeitslosengeld I depend on your contribution to the social security system and your salary prior to becoming unemployed. 

    The amount of Arbeitslosengeld I you receive is based on your average netto salary in the 12 months before you became unemployed (known as the “assessment period”). Your benefit will be 60% of your previous average wage (or 67% if you have children), up to a maximum of 7.050 euros per month in West Germany and 6.750 euros in East Germany. Out of this amount, the employment agency will automatically deduct additional taxes and expenses such as statutory health insurance, pension insurance etc.

    The length of your entitlement for unemployment benefit depends on your age and the amount of time you have been employed in Germany (and therefore paid unemployment insurance). The maximum length you can receive unemployment benefit is 12 months if you are younger than 50 years and 24 months if you are older than 58 years. In case you get fired, you can start receiving unemployment benefits immediately after your employment ends. However, if you leave your job voluntarily, you will only be able to receive unemployment benefits from the fourth month after your employment ends. If the period of your entitlement has been finished and you have not found a new job, you may need to apply for Arbeitslosengeld II (view ‘’Unemployment Benefit’’ in the freelancers section).


    What is expected from me during my unemployment?

    The main thing required to maintain your unemployment benefit is to look for a new job. It is very likely that you will be called during your unemployment phase to physically attend a meeting in the employment agency where you are registered. These appointments are held in order for the agency to find out more about your current status and job search. You may need to show proof of applications and/or auditions you have taken part in. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis it may be possible to hold some (if not all) of these appointments over the phone. Also, during your unemployment period you are not allowed to leave Germany without permission from the agency.


for freelancers

  • First steps upon becoming a freelancer

    First steps upon becoming a freelancer

    You might be transitioning from employment to freelance or have just finished your studies -- So, how do you start working as a freelance dance artist? Besides the artistic work and searching for jobs, you need to make sure you have all your paperwork in order. First, if you are not an EU citizen you will have to get a valid residence permit, if you don’t already have one (see Visa & Residence Permit Resource Guide). This is its own process, but many of the steps for freelancers listed below are needed for both EU and non-EU citizens.


    Next, you need to: 

    Register your address (Anmeldung)

    If you have not already registered your address, make an appointment at your local municipal office (Bürgeramt) online and bring the following documents to the appointment:

    • Valid passport or national ID

    • Rental confirmation from your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung)

    • Registration form, either called Meldeschein or Anmeldung


    Register for health & social insurance

    You will need health, pension and care insurance to live and work in Germany.

    As a freelancer you have to enroll yourself in a health insurance of your choice. You have the option to choose between public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung).

    Pension and care insurance are provided by the state. The KSK (Künstlersozialkasse) supports self-employed artists financially with their contributions for social insurance. You must apply for the KSK separately after you are enrolled in one of the two types of regular health & social insurance (see KSK Q&A).

    There are a number of different insurances that are not mandatory but could support you further on your way as a freelancer. We have made a list of insurances that could interest you (link to list) 


    Register for a Steuernummer (tax number for freelancers) 

    To start your career as a freelancer, a Steuernummer is crucial. Based on the tax number, the responsible, local tax office can assign the income tax return to the taxpayer. The tax number is composed of information about your federal state, the responsible tax office and a personal number. 

    To obtain your Steuernummer (tax number) from your nearest Finanzamt (tax office) you have to fill in the “Fragebogen zur steuerliche Erfassung” (Questionnaire for Taxation) and submit it to your local tax office. You should receive your tax number per mail in a few weeks

    Once you have a Steuernummer, this number needs to be included every time you make an invoice.

    Important: every time you change your address, either to another region or city in Germany, even within the same city, you must inform the nearest Finanzamt, because your Steuernummer may change (not your Steuer ID, this always stays the same). 

    Clarification: The Steuer-ID is your Tax Identification number. In the German tax authority’s system (Finanzamt) you, as a person, are this number. It remains your personal Tax ID number for the rest of your life. It must be mentioned in all letters to the Finanzamt, and is used to process everything relating to Einkommensteuer (Income Tax).


    And finally, each year you will need to: 

    Declare your taxes

    Once you start earning money as a freelancer you will have to declare your taxes. The tax declaration can be submitted with the help of a tax advisor (Steuerberater) or through online tax portals like ELSTER, Taxfix or Steuergo. You will need your tax identification number (Steuer-ID) and your tax number (Steuernummer).



    The Sozialversicherungsnummer, Rentenversicherungsnummer or RVNR is the German pension insurance number. It's also called a social insurance number. It is also a unique number, it does not change over the course of your life.

    In order to find out your number, please get in contact with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung. 

  • KSK - Künstlersozialkasse (Artists' Social Security Fund)

    KSK - Künstlersozialkasse (Artists' Social Security Fund)

    • It works as an employer
    • It covers the employers cost / health insurance / pension
    • It covers 50% of the health insurance


    The KSK, or Künstlersozialkasse, is the Artists' Social Security Fund. It ensures that self-employed artists enjoy similar protection under the statutory social insurance system as employed artists. The KSK coordinates the payment of contributions of its members to health, pension and care insurances. More information about the topic can be found on kuenstlersozialkasse.de.


    What are the advantages of a KSK membership?

    As an employed artist the contributions you pay for social insurance are partially covered by the employer. Self-employed artists have to pay the full amount of contributions out of their own pocket. With a KSK membership freelance artists only pay half of the required amount and the rest is financed by the Künstlersozialkasse. Membership is also beneficial as you apply for funding or other organizationational support, where you may be asked to show proof of your KSK Mitgliedschaft as evidence that you are a working, professional artist.


    What are the joining requirements?

    • you need to apply and prove that you are a freelance artist.
    • Your main job and main income should be from your freelance job


    You have to be a self-employed artist and earn at least 3.900,00 EURO per year / 325,00 EURO per month.

    For the first three years of your self-employed career you can be supported by the KSK, even though your income is lower than the minimum earning requirement.

    Within a six year time frame, your yearly income may be under the minimum earning requirement (3.900,00 Euro/year) twice. 


    How do I get in?

    • You need to fill in an application form, and send them proof that you are an artist and work in an artistic field.
    • You can send your dance/art degree, and any proof of job from the last half a year (pictures, video, website, program, …)


    You will need to fill out an application, provide details and documents that prove you are working as a self-employed artist (contracts, invoices, flyers, newspaper reports, any evidence from your last year of work and the upcoming months). Your application needs to be approved in order to become a member. If you are accepted, you will be covered from the date of your application. The application form and more detailed information are available for download on the KSK website.


    Once you get in,

    • you need to tell them an estimation of how much money you will earn in the year. And you will have to do it every year.
    • You need a minimum income of 3.900€/year as a freelancer to get into KSK.
    • They calculate how much you will have to pay them regarding how much you earn.
    • You are allowed to have a side job up to 450€/month.


    Download English version

  • ZAV



    It’s a dance agency connected to the Arbeitsagentur.

    You have to audition to get into ZAV.

    They help you find auditions and jobs for you regarding what ‘’kind of dancer’’ you are.

    But being into ZAV helps to get into KSK.





  • Visa Resource Guide

    Visa Resource Guide


  • Local Networks contemporary dance

    Local Networks contemporary dance

    We can’t emphasise enough how important it is for freelance dancers to check out and join local networks! 

    What is a local Network for? 

    • Provide support and networking opportunities for individual artists to connect and exchange professional knowledge with other artists, local organizations, theaters and festivals.

    • Work to increase public perception & appreciation of the performing arts as well as recognition of the working practices & achievements of actors/performers.

    • Through debate, networking, and initiatives, they seek sustainable improvement of the economic and social conditions of dance and theater creators (including implementing binding minimum pay standards).

    • Advocate for the stronger integration of the independent performing arts in research, teaching and training, and the promotion of European and international networking.

    Where do I find my local Network?

    Here is a list of local networks across Germany, starting with the Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste (or BVFDK) which is the larger umbrella organization for the 18 different associations: one for each Bundesland, one for children and youth theaters and one for performance in public or outdoor spaces. At the end there is also a list of further networks which are specific to different cities or concerns.  

    Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste - 

    The German Association of Independent Performing Arts is the federal umbrella organisation of all state associations for professional independent performing arts in Germany.

    Email: post@darstellende-kuenste.de


    The members of the Federal Association of Independent Performing Arts are the individual state associations:

    Landesverband Freie Tanz- und Theaterschaffende Baden-Württemberg

    Email: laftbw@t-online.de


    Verband Freie Darstellende Künste Bayern

    E-mail: info@vfdkb.de


    LAFT – Landesverband freie darstellende Künste Berlin


    E-mail: info(at)laft-berlin.de


    Landesverband Freier Theater Brandenburg

    E-mail: post@freie-theater-brandenburg.de


    Landesverband Freie Darstellende Künste Bremen

    Email:  info@lafdk-bremen.de


    Dachverband freie Darstellende Künste Hamburg


    Email: info@dfdk.de


    Landesverband Professionelle Freie Darstellende Künste Hessen laPROF

    Email: info@laprof.de


    Landesverband Freier Theater Mecklenburg-Vorpommern


    Email: info@laftmv.de


    LaFT - Landesverband Freier Theater in Niedersachsen


    Email; laft@laft.de


    NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste

    Email: info@nrw-lfdk.de 


    laprofth – Landesverband professioneller freier Theater Rheinland-Pfalz


    E-mail: info@laprofth.de


    Netzwerk Freie Szene Saar

    Email: kontakt@freieszenesaar.de


    Landesverband der Freien Theater in Sachsen

    Email: vorstand@freie-theater-sachsen.de


    Landeszentrum Freies Theater Sachsen-Anhalt 


    Email: info@lanze-lsa.de


    Landesverband freie darstellende Künste Schleswig-Holstein


    Email: info@freie-theater-sh.de


    Thüringer Theaterverband e. V.


    Email: info@thueringer-theaterverband.de


    ASSITEJ Bundesrepublik Deutschland - ASSITEJ e.V. Internationale Vereinigung des Theaters für Kinder und Jugendliche

    Email: m.fechner@kjtz.de 


    Bundesverband Theater im Öffentlichen Raum

    Email: info@theater-im-oeffentlichen-raum.de


    Weitere Netzwerke:

    Landesbüro Darstellende Künste Sachsen


    The Landesbüro Darstellende Künste Sachsen e.V. (LDKS) was grounded in 2016 as an interest group and network for all actors and producers of the performing arts in the Free State of Saxony. The focus of its activities are the sustainable improvement of the framework conditions for the performing arts and promoting activities to improve the visibility of actors, activists and producers in the region.


    Landesbüro Tanz Köln

    Email: nrw@landesbuerotanz.de

    NRW landesbuero tanz is a contact point, communication platform and driving force for the professional dance scene in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) through offering various forms of networking and training while also providing friendly advice to the dance scene.


    Touring Artists


    Email: info@touring-artists.info

    Touring Artists, the information portal for internationally mobile artists and creatives, offers comprehensive information on the topics of visas and residence, artist status and contracts, transport and customs, taxes, social security, other insurances and copyright.

    Touring Artists primarily depicts the conditions, legal bases and administrative procedures in Germany - for foreign artists and creative people who work here temporarily, as well as for Germans and people living in Germany who are temporarily active abroad.

    Produktionszentrum Stuttgart

    Email: info@produktionszentrum.de

    The Production Center Tanz + Performance e.V. offers dancers and choreographers ongoing training modules and a varied accompanying program. It is a place of training, preparation and support for free dancers from Stuttgart and the surrounding area and their productions.


    Tanznetz Freiburg 

    Email: profitraining@tanznetz-freiburg.de 

    Dance Network Freiburg is an initiative and platform for professional artists in the field of contemporary dance in the region of Freiburg.



    Email: kontakt@tanznetzdresden.de 

    TanzNetzDresden is a self-organized network of the independent dance scene in Dresden. Formed by freelance dancers and choreographers, it actively contributes to the art and cultural scene within the city of Dresden and its surroundings.


    Tanzregion Vorpommern e.V.

    Email: info@vorpommern-tanzt-an.de

    Tanzregion Vorpommern e.V. is the sponsor of the community initiative 'Vorpommern tanzt an' and an association of several local organizations: Perform[d]ance (Stralsund), schloss bröllin (Fahrenwalde) and the Theater Vorpommern (Stralsund, Greifswald & Putbus).

    Tanzbüro München

    Email: info@tanzbueromuenchen.den

    Tanzbüro München sees itself as an information and advice center for professional choreographers and dance professionals based in Munich. It offers services relevant to the realization of dance productions and is the point of contact for national and international dance and theater organizers as well as for artists' cultural and political concerns in the city.


    TanzArt-Kirschau (Jana Schmück)

    Email: info@tanzart-kirschau.de

    TanzART e.V. in Schirgiswalde-Kirschau is a studio in the art initiative "IM FRIESE". It offers contemporary and Indian dance as well as multifaceted workshops. Another focus is the promotion of international artists in the framework of the artist-in-residence program and the establishment of a network in the rural area between culture and art creators and their sponsors.



  • Funding


    If you want to explore and give room to your own creativity, the first question you face is: “How do I finance my work?”.  In order to set up your own project, there are various funding options for the respective work steps.


    What kind of funding can be applied for?

    -Research: do you want to find a new form of movement? What topic do you want to deal with? In this phase you look at the deeper questions that you want to deal with in your project, as well as planning the implementation.

    - Project execution: How many dancers? Pay? Venue? Rehearsal location? This phase is about the concrete execution of your project. Here you also deal with the payment of your employees, possibly a residency and the development of your idea.

    -Residency: Residencies are grants that are given directly by the theater, which gives you the opportunity to use a studio space for research or rehearsals free of charge.

    - Guest performance funding: If you already have a finished piece, this funding option is available to present and financially support your performance at other theaters.

    Under the following link you can specify exactly what kind of funding you are looking for and in which federal state (or cross-border) to find the right one for you:


    (This website is relatively old, but we think the format is cool and worth supporting. However, we cannot guarantee that all shown funding websites are still valid.)


    Why is it important to find the right grant?

    Your chances of receiving funding are a lot higher if your idea fits what the funders would like to support in the current year. It is therefore important to make sure that the status of your work (research, execution, etc.) matches the funding in order to even be eligible for money.


    Which documents may be required?

    • Curriculum vitae (CV)
    • detailed cost and financing plan
    • project description
    • proof of artistic activity

    * Applications are often rejected because of formal errors, so make sure that all information is correct and that you have all the necessary documents before submitting an application. 


    What is the difference between federal and state subsidies?

    State subsidies refer to the respective federal state. Receiving such a grant often requires that the piece will be performed in the state which subsidizes and / or the artist lives in the state in which they apply for the funding. There are of course exceptions.

    Federal subsidies, on the other hand, apply throughout Germany and only refer, if at all, to the fact that the artist lives in Germany. Therefore, the artist can live in whichever federal state within Germany in order to be considered for this grant.


    Where can I find Germany-wide funding programs?

    Enclosed you will find suggestions and links for nationwide funding programs:





    Where can I find funding programs in my federal state?

























    Mecklenburg- Vorpommern:


























    What other options are there ?

    If you cannot find a suitable funding for your project or have not received one, there is the possibility of collecting private donations.

    On “go fund me” you can describe your idea, set a financial goal and then spread it on social media. In this way, private individuals can support your process.



  • Unemployment Benefit

    Unemployment Benefit

    Arbeitslosengeld II, ALG II or Hartz IV

    Published in January 2022

    What unemployment benefits are available for freelancers?

    *If you are currently a freelance dancer who used to work in the past in a German theater, please refer to: “Unemployment benefit’’ in the permanently employed section.

    Typically you are eligible for unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) if you have lost your job (a position for which you were hired as an employee). If you are a freelancer, the situation is different but there are still some options:


    Supplementary Unemployment Benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II or Hartz IV).

    What exactly is Hartz IV?

    It is a social benefit for people who live in Germany and whose income is below a reasonable subsistence level.


    What conditions do I have to fulfil in order to apply for it?

    1. You come from the European Union (EU), are a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland.

    2. You possess a valid settlement or residential permit that entitles you to work in Germany.

    3. You must have been registered in Germany for at least three months before applying for the benefit.

    4. You also need to have worked legally for at least 1 year to be able to receive this benefit indefinitely. For those who have worked less than one year but more than six months, they will be entitled to a maximum of six months of assistance. 

    5. You are a freelancer, solo self-employed, or small business owner and your resources are not sufficient to live on.


    Because of the ongoing financial instability in our field due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arbeitsamt has made it simpler for freelancers to apply for Grundsicherung für Arbeitsuchende or Supplementary Unemployment Benefit in order to support them through the job search.

    Note: The regulations on easier access to basic income support are currently available until March 31, 2022.

    If you meet the basic requirements, you can begin the application immediately online. Applying for this financial benefit has been simplified and is now available through the Agentur für Arbeit’s website: arbeitsagentur.de 

    Direct link to online application.

    FAQ page from the Arbeitsamt (in German): arbeitsagentur.de 

    Find more information here (in German).


    What steps do I have to follow to apply for Arbeitslosengeld II / Hartz IV?

    The first thing to do is to go to your local Jobcentre and ask for the application form for Arbeitslosengeld II / Hartz IV. At the moment it is best to reach them by phone, E-mail or you can fill in the online application.

    The Jobceter will need:

    • the application form
    • your national identity card / passport
    • your Anmeldung and your rental contract
    • bank statements for the last 5-6 months (to prove that you really don't have enough income)
    • bills for all your current expenses (electricity, heating, mobile, water, etc.)
    • your CV and your academic qualifications (for the job search)
    • your information to your health insurance (keep your current health insurance or get a conditional policy that will be activated once you get the benefits)
    • if you have a MiniJob or other type of job: a copy of your contract and a signed letter from your employer stating that they have no objection to you receiving the benefit


    Once you have submitted all the documents, you will be assigned a person in charge at the Jobcenter to handle all the paperwork from then on, to help you find a job and to guide you.


    What obligations do I have as a Hartz IV beneficiary?

    Basically, the only thing you are asked to do is to actively look for a job, so that you no longer need the benefit. In the last two years, due to the pandemic, the Federal Employment Agency has been less strict, as they understand that finding work in our profession is not easy. It all depends on the employment situation and how committed you are to show that you want to find a job. They will also ask you to come to a meeting every month or two months to prove that you are actively looking for work or just to report your situation. It is also important to know that you will not be able to leave the country without asking permission first.


    For how long can I receive this benefit?

    In general, you can receive the benefit for a maximum of 6 months, but if your situation has not changed by the end of this period, you will be able to renew it for another 6 months. You can repeat this procedure indefinitely until the benefit is denied.


    And what exactly does the grant consist of?

    Regelbedarf. It corresponds to the allowance to cover your living expenses. 

    KdU Kosten der Unterkunft und Heizung. This corresponds to the cost of rent and heating. 

    Krankenversicherung. This corresponds to the health insurance, so that you have health care and that it does not cost you any money.



    Basic Info in English-arbeitsagentur.de 


    “Grundsicherung für Arbeitsuchende (Arbeitslosengeld II) ist eine Sozialleistung, mit der der grundlegende Lebensunterhalt gedeckt werden soll. Sie steht sowohl (ehemaligen) Beschäftigten wie auch Selbstständigen offen. Im Zuge der Corona-Krise wurden die Voraussetzungen für diese Leistung vereinfacht. Mehr Menschen als bisher können jetzt durch Grundsicherung unterstützt werden.” 


    Other option:

    Überbrückungshilfe - There are a number of different financial bridging aid programs created since 2020 to assist freelancers, solo self-employed and businesses. There may be one applicable for you. To find out more and apply please visit: ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de


  • Professional Self-image

    Professional Self-image

    "Thank you for this incredible chance!" In the eyes of us as dancers, a job offer or being cast in a production is usually a gift and an opportunity for which we are deeply grateful. What many people often don't think about is how we earned that opportunity through dedication, willpower and hard physical work. A lack of self-confidence and feeling of security often makes us forget what an essential contribution we make to the bigger picture. We deserve, not only the opportunities on-stage and the applause of the audience, but we also have a legally and collectively agreed entitlement to decent employment. This includes a fulfilling and healthy career during which we are allowed, as employees, to have a voice in the discussion of many matters.

    Dance as a professional field has undergone a huge transformation in the last 25 years, the standard of companies overall has risen significantly, also decreasing the differences in quality between smaller and larger ensembles. Dancers from all over the world know about the internationally unique diversity and density of professional companies and independent projects available in Germany. As a result of this, since the fall of the wall and globalization, competition in our job market has increased exponentially, meaning that more and more dancers are fighting for a decreasing number of jobs.

    These developments in our job market have created an increase in the pressure dancers face, however, there has been no profound or comprehensive change to the structures and self-conception of our industry. Short-term employment contracts, low pay, the inadequately regulated working conditions of our NV Bühne Solo contract, occasionally obsolete leadership or teaching methods and above all our love for our art form have placed many dancers in a position of financial and emotional dependency towards their superiors. This prevents them from taking responsibility for themselves as artists, employees and general members of society.

    Difficulties inherent to the dance profession are only being made worse by these structural problems: high physical performance demands, lack of an independent voice during daily rehearsals, mostly following orders, permanent feeling of being in a "test" situation, dealing with the social and cultural differences of living in another country as well as not having the normal support network of family and friends. But these issues are often not dealt with properly and dancers are not receiving sufficient compensation to help them overcome temporary or long-term problems mentally and physically.

    Translation by Amelia Seth / Theater Krefeld Mönchengladbach

  • Union



    GDBA Union for Artists in Germany

    More information will come soon!



  • Injuries


    An integral part of a dancer's life are the injuries, and when living and working in Germany it is crucial to know how to go through the public health’s bureaucracy properly in order to receive top care and treatment.


    What does the insurance system look like for dancers?
    Health insurance in Germany is not free of charge, yet mandatory. Most dancers can only get public health insurance, which is through AOK, DAK, KKH, Barmer, IKK and more. This covers everything that is not a work injury.If you make over 60,750€ per year or you become a freelancer you can choose a private insurance, PKV. 

    All employees of a theater are also insured through the working accident system (Unfallkasse), which is a state funded insurance. This insurance also deals with workplace safety and anything relating to health in the workplace. They can be contacted to do inspections of a workplace if there is concern that working conditions are not up to standard. For more information about accident insurance please visit: https://www.dguv.de/en/index.jsp If you are a freelancer you have to make your own accident insurance (Unfallversicherung).  Here you can find Tipps for choosing one https://www.kuenstler-fairsicherung.de/unfallversicherung/ or go direct to https://www.vbg.de/DE/0_Home/home_node.html (unfortunately the website is only available in German)


    I am in pain! What shall I do?
    If it isn’t a specific working accident case (read further for definition and explanation) and you need help with pain management or physiotherapy, go to your Hausarzt (or preferably a specialized orthopedic) and request a receipt for some form of physical therapy. In the receipt the doctor can specify the type of treatment you need, the length and the frequency of the treatments. You can always go back to your doctor to get another receipt for physiotherapy if it runs out. Treatments prescribed by a doctor will be covered by your individual insurance, either partially or fully.

    Your Hausarzt and physiotherapist should be able to help taking care of the pain. If you need to see a specialist for something more serious, your Hausarzt can refer you to one. If you need additional help or advice, get in contact with TA.MED- a German organization specified for dancers’ health in Germany- for further help and advice (please visit: https://www.tamed.eu/)


    I got injured at work! What are the first things I shall do?

    A work injury (Arbeitsunfall) is any traumatic injury that occurs on the way from home to work, at work, during a show, or on the way from work to home. 

    As soon as the accident happens, fill out a form for a work injury with the ballett direction (Unfallanzeige). Go to see a doctor immediately or the following day at the latest. Work injuries must be treated by a D-Arzt and only D-Arzts (Durchgangsarzt, specially certified doctors from the Unfallkasse of your specific region of Germany), whether it is a hospital visit or not. The D-Arzt gives the accident insurance fund a prompt report on the accident, the injury and the measures taken. At the same time, the employer informs the accident insurance fund about the reportable accident at work.

    Only call an ambulance if you are severely injured and cannot reach the doctor independently (with public transport/ private vehicle). Any travel costs regarding the injury will be fully refunded by the Unfallkasse, once they are provided with the receipts. The ballet direction or human resources (Personalabteilung) in your house should have a list of D-Arzt in your city (you can also search for them through their website: https://www.dguv.de/de/bg-uk-lv/unfallkassen/index.jsp).

    Once you get to the Hospital / Doctor, most importantly, inform them clearly that you had a working accident, an “Arbeitsunfall”, and you are covered with the Unfallkasse of your respective region. This part is extremely crucial. Then present your private health insurance card (Barmer GEK, TK, DAK, AOK…) for identification in the health system. You will need to tell them specifics about the injury (what caused it, your current symptoms, the time and place of injury etc.) so make sure that you have a basic ability to articulate it, or have a German speaking person accompany you.

    As soon as possible afterwards, make sure the Opera House has a full accident report (the Unfallanzeige). This report should be filed as soon as possible through the ballet direktion, no later than one week after the injury. Even if it is something small, it is very important to put any injury on file with them for future reference with the health insurance.
    If the Injury happens in the Studio, call a certified First Aid employee. Each house should have a First Aid certified employee on staff at all times. List can be obtained from the ballet direction or Personalabteilung. This list can be printed and displayed near the working spaces.
    If the injury happens on Stage, inform the Chefdisponent of the performance first, either directly or via the stage manager. The Chefdisponent MUST be aware of any injuries that occur shortly before or during a performance. The Chefdisponent will further notify the Ballet masters if quick changes need to be made and help to organize getting care for the injured dancer.
    If the injury happens on tours within Germany, please follow the same course of actions written above.

    If the injury happens on tours outside of Germany, this is dependent on Company policy. If the company has travel insurance, that should cover treatment in foreign countries. This is a topic to discuss with your tour manager or directly with the ballet direction. 


    How can I manage my injury in the most efficient way?

    When you are dealing with any sort of work injury, you will be assigned a rehab manager through your region's Unfallkasse, who will use the information on the doctor’s report to identify any specific need for additional action or support in the form of rehabilitation management.
    The rehab managers first contact the injured person, clarify any questions regarding occupation and the need for support and give individual advice. The rehab managers meet in person with the injured dancer, a medical rehabilitation specialist and other experts in order to plan an individually tailored programme of rehabilitation and reintegration. Other specialists who are particularly knowledgeable about the physical requirements for work are also involved in rehabilitation planning. They also know what life is like in the theatre. Muscle wastage and the resulting delay in subsequent reintegration into theatre training are prevented by using a special exercise plan for the parts of the body not affected by injury. 

    The results are recorded in a rehabilitation plan. 


    In order to find the most suitable form of rehab for you: 


    Will I keep getting paid while I am injured?

    Once declared sick by a medical authority, you will be provided with three copies of a certificate of incapacity for work (Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung/ Krankenschein)- one for you to keep, one for your employer and one for the health insurance. It is important to send this certificate to the health insurance company within one week of your doctor visit. In specific circumstances in which a dancer is unable to work, the health insurance will be covering a portion of the dancer’s salary (Krankengeld). In most cases, this consists of 70 percent of the brutto monthly salary (you can calculate the exact amount you will receive here: https://www.finanztip.de/gkv/krankengeld/). If the insurance is not provided with the issued Krankenschein, your requirement on sick pay rests and the insurance will not pay (§49 exp. 1 No. 5 SGB V). Here are the circumstances in which you are entitled to get payed by the insurance (Krankengeld):

    • Being treated as an in-patient in a hospital or rehabilitation facility without continuing to receive salary from the employer.
    • Being unable to work for more than six weeks due to the same illness and the employer no longer pays the salary (§ 3 EntgeltFG).
    • Having started a new job and becoming ill within the first four weeks. The employer will then not have to pay salary. Instead, the health insurance can provide sick pay.

    In cases of a working accident, you are entitled to apply for injury payment (Verletzengeld) from the Unfallkasse. Normally, injury payment is 80 percent of the brutto monthly salary, and will not be paid if Krankengeld is already provided by the health insurance. For more information, please contact your Unfallkasse and visit: https://www.arbeitsrechte.de/verletztengeld/#Was_ist_Verletztengeld 

    Once you are healthy and fit enough to return to work, your employer will pay your full salary again and the insurance will no longer participate. 

    If you are a freelancer and paying for accident insurance, your injury payment (Kranken-/Verletztengeld) will be calculated according to the salary you claimed to the KSK.


    Once I am fit and healthy, how am I expected to transition back into work?

    Every Opera House should have a ‘return-to-work program’ (Betriebliches Eingliederungsmanagement/ BEM) set up. You can work with them to properly manage your return to work after a long sickness or injury. Contact your Personalabteilung or Personalrat (work council) for more information.
    For more information please visit: https://www.kus.uni-hamburg.de/en/themen/gesundheit-familie-soziales-gleichstellung/soziale-beratungsangebote/bem.html


  • Bayerische Versorgungskammer (Bavarian Chamber of Pensions)

    Bayerische Versorgungskammer (Bavarian Chamber of Pensions)

    This section aims to lay out key information about the German pension agency for stage and theatre artists. This is a puzzling subject for all of us not so familiar with the world of pension and insurance policies, but we have tried to make it as comprehensive and accessible as possible.The majority of the information found in this segment originates in files and documents from the Bayerische Versorgungskammer website so for more information, documents and contact details please visit: https://www.buehnenversorgung.de/  (unfortunately, the website is mostly available in German, with only select documents in English language which can be found in the ‘Downloadcenter’). 


    What is the Bayerische Versorgungskammer/ BVK? 

    The Bavarian Chamber for Social Benefits and Pensions is an agency, based in Munich, that manages the German Theatrical Pension Fund (Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen - VddB).


    What is the Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen/ VddB?

    The German Theatrical Pension Fund is a compulsory benefit and pension policy. By means of an extra insurance, its main purpose is to provide all members of the theatrical professions employed in all German theatres with supplementary old-age pension. It also involves occupational disability and surviving dependents' benefits and the special option for dancers to take funds early to support their career transition after finishing a professional stage career.


    Who is insured by BVK and how?

    • All professional stage artists who are at least 17 years old, permanent and guest employees alike. (The period of compulsory insurance begins at the same time as employment starts and includes the rehearsal and pre-rehearsal period.)

    • The artists’ right to insurance is unaffected by his or her nationality: foreign artists are eligible for the same rights and responsibilities as German artists.

    • Retirement funds are paid out worldwide; The insured artist does not have to live in Germany during retirement to take advantage of his/her benefits.

    • Every artist will receive services or funds in proportion to the investment they have made.

    • Freelance artists are also entitled to be insured by the BVK, you will need to register yourself independently through the following link: https://www.buehnenversorgung.de/downloadcenter#5870. (You will be asked to send in a proof of your annual income or your KSK membership number, accompanied by a layout of your artistic activity of the last 2-3 years.)

    • If you finish a contract with a theater but continue to work as a freelancer you can continue your payments (more info about minimum requirement below) and membership with the BVK.

    • If you finish working in Germany but continue working as a dancer in another country you can continue your payments and membership with the BVK.

    • If you finish working as a professional stage dancer and do not want to take the money for a career transition you have the option to continue your payments into the BVK so your insurance continues to grow until retirement age.

    • Insurance with the Artists’ Social Security (KSK) does not affect insurance with the BVK.


    What will be your contributions?

    • The contributions to your fund are paid equally by you and your employer- half is paid by you every month and the same amount is also paid in by your employer.

    • You can contact the BVK about options to increase this payment and about continuing minimum payments if your employment with a theater ends.


    What is Riester?

    • Riester is the possibility for you to receive additional state subsidy towards this pension and declare taxes for them. The state pays supplementary allowances for your compulsory contributions and the amounts can be deducted from income tax as special expenditure. 

    • For more information about the conditions and procedure of application, please visit: https://www.buehnenversorgung.de/Downloadcenter#5851 (Riester- Informationsmaterial- ‘Explanatory Note 15- Riester support measures’).

    • If you are a freelance artist, you will need to contribute at least 4% of your netto yearly income in order to apply for ’Riester’.


    What can I use the money on my fund for?

    You may use the money on your fund for the following benefits: 

    Old-age pension- You may continue your insurance after you have given up your onstage activities by keeping on paying the minimum contribution, which is 12,50 euros monthly. If you continue your insurance until the legal age limit, you may attain the qualifying period for old-age pension (60 months of contribution payments) and secure your entitlement to a flexible old-age pension upon reaching the age of 62. If you have not paid at least 60 months of contributions before 31 December 2000, you will qualify for an old-age pension upon reaching the statutory age limit (67) if you have attained the qualifying period of 120 months of contributions.

    Upon your death, your surviving dependents will be entitled to a pension (death allowance, widow(er)’s allowance, surviving dependents' annuity for registered partners and orphan’s allowance).


    Transition (indemnity)- Among onstage professions, dancers occupy a particular position, since they are generally able to exercise their profession for a limited time only. The indemnity paid by the VddB aims to facilitate your career change and the set-up of your own business. You will qualify for the indemnity if you have reached the age of 32 and have not given up your onstage profession by then (this includes all types of stage work, not only dancing) or no later than the end of the season when you turned 44. You are required to provide evidence of retraining, further training or establishment of your own business. You must have paid contributions for at least 60 months without claiming benefits (disability pension), and prove that you will no longer work as a dancer and will not take up any activity in the future which would require you to be insured with the VddB. The indemnity amount equals the total of all paid contributions, i.e. including the employer’s contribution, and will be paid once on request in one lump-sum amount. The application form is available from administration or online at www.buehnenversorgung.de in the section „Versicherung und Versorgung - Formulare“ (Insurance and Pension forms). You must apply within two years of giving up your onstage profession. 

    Please note: Full payment of your indemnity settles all your expectancies from the VddB. If you have attained the qualifying period of 60 months for old-age pension, you should consider carefully whether you will still have sufficient old-age pension benefits. The amount of expectancies for a disability pension until that time will be communicated on request.


    Disability pension- Dancers are entitled to claim disability pension for a limited period of time, if their disability has occurred prior to reaching the age of 35 due to an accident at work, or if they have paid contributions for at least 60 months. If you claim a disability pension, you are no longer entitled to claim the indemnity for dancers, however, entitlements to old-age pension and to survivor’s dependant annuities are unaffected.


    Medical treatment (non compulsory medical benefits)- The VddB may grant supplementary medical benefits on certain treatments upon request, provided the cost of treatment is not reimbursed by any other body. A recipient of a pension for professional or occupational disability may be granted non-compulsory medical benefits before reaching his/her retirement age provided the treatment is likely to restore his/her earning capacity.
    Non-compulsory medical benefits are granted for artificial dentition (Prostheses and implants, Dental crowns, three-dimensional dental inlays for performing stage artists); outpatient and spa treatments (occupational rehab, inpatient treatment in exceptional cases); performance aids (contact lenses, hearing aids) and Cosmetic operations and laser interventions improving the visual acuity of performing stage artists.
    In individual cases and in combination with previously granted benefits, non-compulsory medical benefits are not to exceed 10% of contributions paid until the end of the last fiscal year prior to treatment.


    For more information, please refer to https://www.buehnenversorgung.de/Downloadcenter#5851

    (Nebenleistungen- Tänzerabfindung- ‘Explanatory Note `23- Special regulations for dancers and members of dance ensembles’)


    Are there any further retirement plans available for me?

    Everyone living in Germany has a fund in the Statutory Pension Insurance, Public Retirement Insurance System. Participation is mandatory for employees- each worker is assessed for a sum based on annual earnings. Premiums are deducted directly by the employer, with the employee paying half and the employer half. English language information about the German Public Retirement System can be found at www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de. For more information about the different contributions to these pension funds, please contact the deutsche rentenversicherung or refer to this website: https://www.howtogermany.com/pages/german-retirement.html.

    There are additional Private Plans that are available to everyone living in Germany. You may contact people through your bank for additional information about these plans. For more information about Riester (Förder) Rente and Rürup (Basis) Rente please visit: https://www.howtogermany.com/pages/private-pension-plans.html

  • tamed


    ta.med e. V. gives a voice to health in dance. They are involved in all dance disciplines with the aim of promoting the health and quality of life of dancers throughout the German-speaking world - from amateurs to professionals.




  • Insurance


    (recommended by DC)

    Liability insurance (private)

    In Germany it is regulated by law who has to pay for property damage/personal injury. This means that the individual who causes damage to a second person through their own behaviour or omission must compensate the other person with damages.


    Professional liability

    Freelance dancers/choreographers are legally entrepreneurs. In contrast to employees, freelancers are themselves liable for damage. Private liability insurance does not apply here, as is often wrongly assumed, but these risks must be covered separately.

    In general, personal injury, property damage and financial loss are covered by liability insurance. Special risks such as damage to activities, loading and unloading damage, damage to rented property, loss of keys, etc. can be insured separately.


    KSK (healthcare/social security/pension)

    You can find more information about the KSK in our KSK section.


    Private pension insurance (Bayerische Versorgungskammer)

    More information under Bayerische Versorgungskammer.


    Accident insurance (for freelancers) 

    Accident insurance is recommended for every freelancer. This applies if the insured person is injured at work or on the way there. Examples of accidents: car accidents, slipping on stage, being injured while transporting instruments/equipment, falling from stairs. (Pays medical bills in case of an accident at work.)


    Disability insurance (ideally bought during your studies) 

    This insurance takes effect if you can no longer do your job for health reasons or only up to 50% (three hours a day). In this case, the insurance would give you an early pension or similar financial assistance. (Example: herniated disc, burn out etc.)


    Household insurance

    This insurance reimburses you for private damage to your belongings in the event of water damage, burglary, fire or similar situations that are not your fault. If you buy furniture/electrical devices, it makes sense to insure them in case of an emergency.


    On https://www.touring-artists.info/en/insurances/ you will find detailed information about insurances in Germany.

    We recommend reading the touring-artists website for further information and, if necessary, making an appointment with one of the insurance agents listed there. Some insurance options can be combined (for example: liability + household insurance). If you are in a civil partnership or married, it can also make sense to take out liability insurance together to reduce costs.

  • Trade Unions

    Trade Unions

    Published in December 2021

    Most of us dance artists do not fully realise how big a role the trade unions play in our working reality. In order to examine and improve the means of a dancer’s life in Germany we need to understand the foundation of our employment, which is deeply connected to the work and responsibilities of the trade union. 


    What is a trade union?


    A trade union is an organisation of workers who come together to achieve goals such as attaining better wages, benefits and improving working conditions through increased bargaining power gained by solidarity among workers. There are many active unions in Germany representing different labour sectors including the performing arts sector.


    Unions negotiate with other social and political bodies to represent and protect the rights and interests of workers. In Germany, unions are considered to be “social partners”, which means they engage in collective bargaining as well as taking part in the political decision-making process and engaging in other public functions. Unions in Germany are specifically protected under the constitutional law, which means every individual, occupation or profession has the right to form associations to protect and improve their working conditions.


    Through collective bargaining, the union sets the framework for working conditions (such as working hours, working environment, holidays, required breaks, etc.). Unions also make wage agreements for single companies or whole sectors (defining different wage levels, setting the minimum wage requirements, setting wage increases, etc.).

    Workers’ contracts (including dancers) rely on collective agreements (Tarifvertrag) which are negotiated by unions. In most cases of permanent employment in German theatres, contracts start by referring to a Tarifvertrag. This is a set of employment rules regulating the working conditions and rights of workers within a sector. These rules are negotiated between a union and the Deutscher Bühnenverein (an organisation that represents cultural institutions). In the German performing arts sector this agreement is called NV Bühne and is negotiated by the union GDBA (Gennossenschaft Deutscher Bühnen Angehöriger) and the Deutscher Bühnenverein.


    Why should dancers be part of a union?


    • Members are entitled to free legal advice and then after 6 months of membership also legal support and representation for employment related legal issues. This includes violation of working rights, harassment, unfair dismissal, and issues with contracts.  

    • Unions play a large role in determining performers’ working contracts. The more dancers support the union, the stronger and more valid artists’ voices become, strengthening the dance lobby, and increasing the collective bargaining tools for negotiating for better, fairer, safer worker conditions.

    • For dancers working in theatres, having more union members within your theatre increases the power the union has to support you and make direct agreements with your theatre.

    • For freelance dancers there is the opportunity to get more active within the union to help increase solidarity and reduce unfair and unacceptable working conditions, including inadequate financial compensation.


    What else do unions do?


    • Hold a variety of events (information sessions, discussion forums) for their members providing the opportunity for individuals to participate, gain knowledge and contribute to industry related discussion.

    • Act as consultants in parliamentary committees.

    • Act on the supervisory committees of public social security schemes such as pension schemes, unemployment insurance, public health insurance and accident insurance.

    • Help decide the content and structure of German training and professional theatre education programs, including the creation of examination procedures and specialist schools.

    • Influence legislation that is relevant to the cultural world. 

    • Help to further develop theatre industrial law, including the formation and continuation of tribunals dedicated to settling disputes within the theatre industry.

    • Promote young artists.

    • Promote artistic development within the theatre industry.


    How do I become a member and how much does it cost?

    There are several unions representing artists in Germany. However, dancersconnect recommends to join the GDBA union, as they are the union responsible for negotiating the NV Bühne contract that most dancers are given working in German theaters. The more dancers there are in one union, the more lobbying and negotiation power the union has.


    Click here to become a GDBA member:

    Fees for freelancers:
    €16.00 per month (€ 7.00 for the first 6 months)

    Fees for full time employed dancers:

    1% of your monthly salary before tax (€ 7.00 for the first 6 months) or

    € 20 if your gross salary is lower than € 2,000

    € 71 if your gross salary is higher than  € 7,100

    (The maximum contribution limit is based on the amount of the respective contribution assessment limit of the VddB, see Q&A BVK)


    Reduced fees for unemployed, pensioners and artists in their first professional working year:

    € 7.00 per month


    Fees for students and trainees:

    € 0.00 associated membership free of charge (without entitlement to legal protection)


    A note from us at dancersconnect!

    Dancersconnect supports forging a new path for now, the next generation and all future generations of professional dancers- where it is normal for dancers to be self-aware, active members of a union and to support and work for the betterment of payment, fairness and working conditions in our industry. Please help us achieve this by joining the union today.


    unionization = artist solidarity


    you think you’ll never need them, until you do!


    Find more info on the GDBA website: 



    In case you wish to join another trade union, please have a look in the following websites: 

    Ver.di: https://www.verdi.de/ueber-uns/mitglied-werden

    VdO: https://www.vdoper.de/mitgliedschaft/index.htm

  • Discrimination and harassment at work

    Discrimination and harassment at work

    Dancers are artists and art is work. Using art as a backdrop for abuse is not an excuse.” (Whistle While You Work)


    Experiencing discrimination, assault, abuse, violance or sexual/racial harrassment at work is often a shocking and paralyzing ordeal. Emotions such as fear, shame, emptiness and blame may arise, making it extremely hard to see through the mental fog. Unfortunately, harassing behaviours often occur in the dance world, since it is an embodied and passion driven profession that still follows a hierarchical model. The line between appropriate behaviour and harassment, similar to other art forms, is often unclear, normalising transgressions. However, it is important to know that you are not alone if you experience abusive treatment at work, that complex/conflicting emotions are normal, and there are multiple actions you can take with different levels of consequences. 

    I experienced a harassing situation at work. What should I do now?


    Here are directions provided by the platform ‘’Whistle While You Work’’ (WWYW), to guide you through the steps you can take following a harassing situation at work:

    • Write down an impact statement: the date, time and location of the harassing activity; what happened and who was involved; who (if anyone) witnessed the action; how it impacted you emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and personally.

    • Confide in another person and let them advocate for you. If there is nobody to share your story with, you can send your words to WWYW for advice and support. Even if your experience might feel like it’s falling in a grey area, write it down. Your experience matters.

    • In case of a sexual harassment and rape, don’t shower and keep your clothes in a clean plastic bag. Go to the gynaecologist or doctor and get checked for STD/STIs and HIV.

    • Report your story to the police if you are comfortable with it. You may also provide your impact statement, photos, videos, emails, text messages, voice notes, social media, written accounts and any evidence that could be helpful for the investigation. This step can possibly be done anonymously.

    • Report your story to the relevant authorities in the cultural political scene: Approach your director (if they are not the harassing side), your work council or the trade union. 

    • In case of a criminal event (violence, rape, abuse) you may choose to appraoch the department of suggestions, complaints and equal opportunities (Büro für Anregungen, Beschwerden und Chancengleichheit) in your city. Such action might cause publication of the affair.


    In order to avoid or mitigate harassing behaviour at work it is important to know how to set clear boundaries with your colleagues and employers. You are entitled to your personal boundaries – at any time – such as while being corrected in class, while participating in the creative process, and during/between rehearsals etc. Beside having the potential to become illegal, the ways in which you are being touched, approached and spoken to are tremendously important as they impact how you perform in and outside of work. If you have a doubt whether a certain event is harassing or not, please remember the following:


    • Inappropriate touching during class and rehearsal is not only a form of physical abuse, but also of intimidation/mental abuse when performed in front of other dancers. 

    • Commenting on someone’s breasts, ass, penis, vagina, genitalia, sexual history and sexual orientation is inappropriate at work, on the way to/ back from work, during after-work events or at any time when it’s unwelcome. 

    • There should be no obligation to have sexual interactions with anyone at work without your consent, regardless of choreographic intent or style. 


    Is there any recommended course of action to follow if I find myself being harassed?


    If you experience abusive conduct it is important to remain calm and do your best to shut it down before it escalates. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the following phrases now, as experiencing harassment can often be shocking and paralysing:


    ‘’ I don’t like what you’re doing. Stop it. ’’

    ‘’When you say ______, it makes me feel intimidated/ humiliated/ offended. ’’

    ‘’ When you do _______ it makes me feel __________. Please stop. ’’

    ‘’ Please don’t talk about my/ their body like that, it is offensive. ’’

    ‘’What you are doing right now is inappropriate and it needs to stop. ’’


    What can I do to prevent harassing behaviour from happening at my workplace? 


    If you recognize harassing or discriminating behavior aimed at a colleague, we encourage you to stand up and say something to avoid becoming a bystander. Speaking up not only protects the person experiencing the harassment but also acts as a protest against the system that allows such events to be perpetuated. If you witness somene behaving in a sexist/ racist/ classist/ homophobic/ hostile/ Islamophobic or Anti-Semitic way at work, please call them out and address them!  

    Dancersconnect, with Whistle While You Work, encourages you to demand equal representation in your workplace including advocating for fair conditions and treatment for people of all colours, gender identities and ethnicities. This can be done during conversations and discussions among ensemble members (and ideally also directors), which can be brought to the attention of the work council in case of systemic resistance or challenges.


    I was harassed at work and now I need help. Where can I find it?


    For more information and support, please visit Whistle While You Work at: http://www.nobody100.com/


    For advice and directions, please visit the trust agency Themis (Website is in German, but support is also offered in English): https://themis-vertrauensstelle.de/. Themis is an independent body of counsellors, psychologists and lawyers with an understanding of the unique work environments of artists in theatre, film and television. Themis recognises the complex circumstances artists, especially freelancers, face working outside company structures where complaining about sexual assault often has unfortunate consequences.


    Themis’ help centre was founded in 2018 in response to the #metoo movement to provide a protected space for confidential advice and access to legal support. Themis also offers psychological counselling and mediation services. The mediation process allows you to keep the incident private while accessing the support of a mediator to find solutions and draft written agreements for your future protection. Each step is coordinated with you – Themis does not take any action without your explicit consent nor will they disclose your identity.



    Telephone consultation hours:

    Phone: 030 23 63 20 20

    Monday, Wednesday, Thurs: 10 am - 12:00pm

    Wednesday, Thursday: 3pm -5pm


    Appointments by arrangement:

    Phone: 030 23 63 20 210

    Mo - Fr 10 am- 3pm Uhr



    Additionally, we would like to recommend to you the anti-racist workshops offered by Arpana Aischa Berndt and Marjana Bogojevic. If you witness a racist pattern of expression or conduct taking place at your work, we encourage you to contact them by sending an email to howtobeanally@yahoo.com and ask them for a workshop (with the consent of your employer of course).



  • Minimum Wages

    Minimum Wages

    Taking a job for the "exposure” or the “experience” does not pay the bills! Nor do these kinds of “opportunities" respect years of training, qualifications and actual experience. If a call is for professional dancers, clarity and transparency relating to salary is absolutely necessary.  Know your worth! You need to be paid for your work and you should not have to pay to audition!


    Dancers need to talk about money! Ask your colleagues how much they receive and ask experienced dancers for advice.


    Here is a list of the current recommended MINIMUM wages for dancers. Please note, there are currently no laws enforcing the payment of minimum wage, rather it is left to the discretion of employers to adhere to this recommendation and to dancers to push for it. 


    For fully employed dancers:

    • Minimum NV-Bühne Solo: 2000 € brutto (netto around 1200€, this always varies a bit)


    For contemporary freelance dancers:

    • Per month:   2.490 € (with KSK-membership)  netto

                                  2.875 € (without KSK-membership) netto


    • Per performance:   250 € (with KSK membership)

                                             280 € (without KSK membership)


    • Per rehearsal day:   105 €  (with KSK-membership)

                                              130 € (without KSK-membership) 


    For commercial freelance dancers:

    • Per rehearsal day:   150 €  - 200 €


    • Per performance:   300 € - 350 €


    • Video shooting day:   450 € - 600 € (remember to consider buy outs)


    For freelancers negotiating wages, be sure to consider all your expenses such as:

    • insurance costs (especially if you are not in the KSK), 

    • space (rent for flat, rehearsal room etc.)

    • communication (telephone, mobile phone, website hosting, postage etc.)

    • materials (work-related equipment such as software, clothing, make-up etc.)

    • education (participation in courses/workshops, purchase of learning materials)

    • mobility (car maintenance/fuel costs, public transport)

    • catering at the place of work (food, drinks)

    • costumes (if asked to used your private clothes you are entitled to reimbursement/compensation)


    Per Diems (daily allowance if you are touring/working away from home)


    -   28 € for each calendar day on which the employee is absent from his/her home for 24 hours

    -    14 € for each day of arrival and departure, if the employee spends the night away from his/her home on this, a subsequent or preceding day

    - 14€ for the calendar day on which the employee is absent from his/her home and the first place of work for more than 8 hours without an overnight stay outside his/her home; If the external professional activity begins on a calendar day and ends on the following calendar day without an overnight stay, this fee is given for the calendar day on which the employee is absent from his/her home and the first place of work for the predominant part of the total of more than 8 hours.

    -   Daily allowance is not granted if there is only a short distance (not more than two kilometres) between the place of work or home and the place where the official business is performed.









  • tax resources

    tax resources

    In the following passage we have gathered for you multiple online resources with information about the German tax system. 


    What are the taxes I pay in Germany as a worker?






    What is a tax declaration (Steuererklärung)?






    How can I file a tax declaration? 




    Specific information for freelancers and self employed:



  • Transition


    The links in this section are primarily to German websites. 

    Unlike in many other professions, the active career of dance professionals can be relatively short for a variety of reasons. This means that sooner or later we wish or have to reorient ourselves. A reorientation can bring different challenges, but it also offers a great opportunity for further growth.


    “As a dancer you don’t retire, you develop further.”


    What can be reasons for a transition?

    • disability (injury, pain, etc.)
    • desire for further education
    • desire for change
    • desire for financial security
    • etc. 


    What options are there after an active dance career?

    • studies
    • vocational training
    • further education


    Postgraduate courses (master's degree):


    Courses finder: studieren-studium.com

    Search engine for further education: iwwb.de


    What is vocational training?

    During vocational training, skills and knowledge are taught by an official educator. At two different institutions the apprentice receives the necessary knowledge to practice the profession after the training.

    The training lasts two to four years, depending on the profession, and takes place inside a company (practical) and the vocational school (theoretical). On average, an apprentice earns €950 per month.

    You can find more information here: aubi-plus.de


    Training opportunities in the professional field:


    Further education or retraining?

    With further education, you stay roughly in your professional field, i.e. you stay in the theatre or movement scene in professions such as: choreography, dramaturgy, pedagogy, etc.

    With retraining, you switch to a completely new profession and can discover a completely different field of interest. e.g. from a dancer's profession to a goldsmith.


    How well do I have to speak German for an apprenticeship in Germany?

    As a rule, level B1 in the German language must be presented at the beginning of the training. If you want to apply for an apprenticeship as a nurse, for example, language skills at level B2 are required. In many cases it is possible to apply for an apprenticeship with level A2.


    Vocational training in Germany for non-EU citizens?

    Applicants from all countries of the world can complete vocational training in Germany. Here you will find further information and support if necessary: ​​life-in-germany.de


    Studying in Germany as a non-EU citizen?

    A student visa is required for this.



    Whether further education or retraining, everything is associated with costs. There are various funding opportunities to support you financially:

    • Education bonus: The education bonus is financed by the state and is accessible to everyone. Up to 50% of the training costs can be reimbursed here, up to a maximum of €500.

    Information at: iwwb.de

    • BAföG: With BAföG, the state supports initial training at vocational schools, colleges, academies and universities. Since the 2019 BAföG amendment, studies at a private vocational academy can also be funded.

    Information at: xn--bafg-7qa.de 

    • Funding programs of individual federal states:

     Information at: test.de

    • BVK deposit. See Bayerische Versorgungskammer Transition-section 
    • You can also include the costs of your further education or retraining (material costs, travel expenses to school, etc.) in your tax return and deduct them from your taxes


    What is Stiftung Tanz?

    Stiftung Tanz helps professional dancers of all kinds in their transition. This is often accompanied by career doubts, insecurities, emptiness and many questions. Stiftung Tanz is a point of contact for advice, support, and guidance. All advice is free and treated confidentially.


    Stiftung Tanz is also aware of the emotional difficulties involved in changing careers, which is why they place particular importance to psychological support.

    For further assistance, there are groups of dancers formed in major cities in Germany. These should provide further assistance with the reorientation.