This year we have been working towards structuring a bit better our descriptions for the role of the workshop model, including expectations and payments at Anatomie Studio. This is the result of two years of trial and error (emphasis on *error*…), as well as many conversations with friends and presenters on the topic.
Even though the following structure is not perfect it’s a structure that we’re happy with at the moment so we’re sharing it.
The role of the workshop bottom
The way we see it there are two roles a model/bottom can take during a workshop: they can either be a ‘Demo Bottom’, meaning they facilitate teaching, or a ‘Co-Teacher/Co-Presenter’, meaning they teach alongside the rigger.
A demo bottom is not expected to develop teaching material and although we encourage them to have a voice and contribute in the classes, there is no expectation for them to take on this responsibility.
The exact wording we use in our own studio documents is:
‘Demo modelling involves being the model for a workshop or class. There is no expectation of teaching. You are welcome to contribute towards the teaching within the limits of what feels reasonable and right to you, but there is no obligation to do so.’
Within this category, we consider there are two sub-categories:
1 – ’Amateur’ demo bottom
For example, if we are teaching a single column tie or another basic tie in a beginners class and ask for a volunteer to demonstrate this on, someone from the audience may volunteer who has no experience bottoming, they may even know very little about rope or bottoming but they are still facilitating the learning and are still invited to have a voice and contribute.
We don’t tend to use ‘amateur’ demo bottoms in classes and workshops.
2 – ’Professional’ demo bottom
This is someone who has substantial experience modelling/bottoming in workshops, in very rare cases this is one of their main sources of income. Usually these bottoms have also developed their own curriculums for bottoming classes. In some cases they have experience in fields like dance, yoga, circus, physio, etc, which they bring into their own practice as a rope bottom.
Although they are not expected to contribute towards the development of the workshop program, they usually do: the presenters usually do some prep work with these models/bottoms before the workshop and they are likely to have some substantial input in terms of some of the material presented.
(The word ‘professional’ is used in quotation marks because in reality this profession doesn’t really exist insofar as there are no accreditations and because there are very few individuals who make a professional living out of this).
The payment for a demo bottom for a workshop at the studio is a fixed fee offered by the studio for the day or half day (well above minimum wage if you’re wondering).
Occasionally, some ‘professional’ demo bottoms set their own day rates. Usually these are individuals who are professionals in other areas (example; they are trained circus performers as well as very experienced rope bottoms, for example Fuoco, or they have accumulated so much experience throughout the years which has earned them some repute, and/or are in such high demand that they can set their own rates and conditions (for example Marika).
Co-teacher / Co-presenter
A co-teacher differs from a demo bottom in the sense that they are actively involved in the development of the material for classes and they are usually expected to teach and have a very present role during classes. Usually – but not always – they are in close relationship with the rigger and therefore the material presented in a workshop is the result of long-term partnership work.
Bottoms who are co-presenters are not offered a separate modelling fee to the rigger, but rather the pair is paid as a single unit.
(The same works for myself and Fred Hatt – we are invited as a unit, I am not offered a separate modelling fee for working with my partner).
Both in the case of ‘professional’ demo bottoms and co-presenters the models tend to be credited (nowadays) in the title or description of the workshop. Typically this is now also accompanied by a short bio about the model/bottom. Many bottoms/models now also have their own websites and social media accounts where their work can be followed. In the extremely rare case an ‘amateur’ demo bottom is asked to bottom for a class, they are typically not announced although they are offered payment for their time and assistance.
Impact: why do this?
As well as creating a culture where bottoming skills are valued, by paying the models we are treating them like professionals who are expected to bring things to the class. This means that as organisers we can guarantee that good quality rope bottoming material is being developed and offered to students.
Setting a standard for the subject also helps to work towards a ‘professionalisation’ of the role of the demo bottom, especially in cases where bottoms are investing substantial time and effort (and money) towards developing themselves as a demo bottom or co-teacher.
For more thoughts on creating a rope bottom aware space see here.
Thank you for reading ❤
– Anna Bones