As a brief guidance, the basics should be:
- An uninterrupted space
- A safely cleared space with a clean floor suitable for the style of dance you are leading
- Warmth but with ventilation
- A space that adheres to fire regulations and health and safety policies.
Dance happens in all kinds of spaces with all kinds of people, and whilst you can use your imagination to troubleshoot and do a sensible assessment of risk there will always be something that you had not anticipated would happen. Talking with people who have experienced running projects like the one you are setting up is invaluable preparation to understand what the risks might be, especially if you are going into different settings such as a hospital, community centre, arts centre or special school.
So, it is up to you to use your common sense and really think about your group, their needs and safety, and you, your needs and safety. Leading dance and working with bodies and body image is sensitive work, therefore it is important that you set up the right conditions and atmosphere for your participants to trust you.
Build a culture within your sessions where people take responsibility for their health and learn to be aware of their own needs and each others needs, then you have more of you respectfully looking out for and listening to one another. Through the structures you use, an understanding of group dynamics and some ground rules to your session, you can reduce risk of injuries, as people start to think more before they move and consider others.
Build a culture outside of your sessions too, of respect from people you work alongside so they understand why you need certain conditions for your session.
It is a familiar story to hear that dance leaders have staff from the venue sometimes wandering through their sessions, or dinner tables being laid out in a school hall when they are still in class. To avoid this, your negotiation of ground rules with the venue is important. Communicate with any staff who also use the space to check there are no crossovers and that a friendly and supportive atmosphere can be created around your sessions.