Puerto Rico Considers A Law Regulating Professional Dancing, And Some Dancers Are Very Worried

Dance might get regulated by the Puerto Rican government, and professional dancers aren’t too happy about it. Over the weekend (June 1), a bill was brought into the public eye by No Puedo Tengo Ensayo, a program made by dancers in Puerto Rico, which seeks to regulate the dance profession in Puerto Rico. Though well-intentioned in theory, some dancers fear the bill will only benefit those on top.

Created by dancer and choreographer Juliana Ortiz, the PC2170 bill was first presented to the House of Representatives on May 22, 2024, with a public hearing. After the talk of the bill went viral online this past weekend, Ortiz announced in her Instagram stories that on June 4, the bill will be presented to the Senate. 

PC2170 would make dancers pay a fee to receive a certification and be able to practice professionally. Its purpose is to make dance a more legitimate profession and improve the working conditions of dancers, who have struggled with unfair wages and poor working conditions. This creates the Puerto Rico Dance Profession Regulatory Law to establish a regulatory council, put in place professional criteria for those who practice dance, and “guarantee the safety, well-being and professional development of the artists.” Dancers could also be fined up to $2,000 if they don’t comply with the guidelines that would be approved by a regulatory board. 

The regulatory council will be composed of nine members, chosen by the Governor of Puerto Rico and approved by the Senate. The members have to be experts in all techniques of dance and be representatives of the artistic community or in academia. However, none of these are fully fleshed out or defined in the actual bill, creating immense confusion and anger in the professional dancing community. 

Additionally, the bill states that all professional dancers must be certified by the regulatory council to continue working legally in Puerto Rico. The applicant must present a negative criminal record certificate, be at least 18 years of age, and pay a certification renewal fee, the price of which is not mentioned in the bill. This means that anyone younger than 18 years old won’t be able to get paid or be hired as a dancer. 

“Dancers, choreographers, educators, among others in this art form are asking for answers to the many doubts that this proposal has generated and denounce not having been aware that this initiative was being developed,” The No Puedo Tengo Ensayo TV program writes in their most recent Instagram post. 

“The mere fact of creating a ‘council’ is absurd and outrageous,” Mike Irvin, choreographer at DEMBOW dance studio, comments on Instagram. “The initiative is appreciated, but you are handing over control of our profession to a government that barely allocates funds to support dance programs.” 

“The only ones who will benefit from such nonsense will be the group of ‘masterminds’ and their henchmen. Let’s get serious and read the intentions in between the lines,” Tairy Rodríguez, a professional dancer who has worked with Natti Natasha, Myke Towers, and Anuel AA, comments on Instagram. 

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