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Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Sat Aug 23, 2014 08:11 AM

Dear Dance.net Judges:
I am a parent with a very difficult problem. I don't have anyone to ask advice from on this matter as I would like to keep it private if possible. So I googled and found this great site. I would appreciate any advice that you can give on this subject.

About a month ago, we asked my daughter's studio dance teacher to help her to choreograph an original solo for competition season. We wanted choreography which highlighted my daughter's strengths but also fulfills the major requirements that the judges are looking for in a solo.

My daughter has been with this teacher for over 10 years and we both admire, respect and love this person.

I have been watching the choreography sessions and have noticed that it doesn't quite fit the lyrics of the song my daughter has chose and that some of the movements are not ones that my daughter can execute well. My daughter has spoken up in a few places and shown her teacher something else that she likes and can do well and the teacher has replaced some of the movements that weren't working well. But the teacher has shown reluctance to change other parts of the choreography, especially when I mention that I don't think that bit is working.

The teacher sent me a clip of the dance that she said that she staged on a different student to a different song at another studio where she works. She said that she did this stageing in order to save time working with my daughter, and that this is the choreography she would like to see my daughter perform. The video shows a student who is older and a different body type than my daughter. It is about a minute long, about the same amount of choreography which has been taught to my daughter.

My first reaction to seeing the clip was that we wanted an original piece choreographed for my daughter and that the choreography fit the other song much better than the song my daughter chose.

We did not have a contract which spelled it out, but I thought that the choreography sessions would be a collaboration between my daughter and the teacher to illustrate the lyrics of the song and use my daughter's favorite dance steps and positions. This is not an art piece where the choreography is the main focus, nor is it a piece only for recital. This is my daughter's solo. My daughter is old enough to learn to choreograph. This will be her first competition solo. I'd like for her to have a solo that she likes and is confident performing.

We had planned that the teacher would teach my daughter the basic bones of the solo during the Summer and then they would work on it as often as possible after dance classes during the school year. The teacher asked for a very small charge per session with the condition that we continue working on running and refining the solo throughout this school year. I have paid for 8 private hours so far.

I just found out that the teacher is actually teaching my daughter choreography which was choreographed by another well known choreographer to a different song for a dancer who has competed that choreography at least twice in this past year.

The short video clip that the teacher sent to me is the first minute or so of a video taken a year ago and posted on YouTube.

The video posted on YouTube clearly states the name of the choreographer, the dancer and that she is learning her solo for 2014. The video was posted by the dancer's parent.

At least 30 seconds of the first minute of what has been taught to my daughter has been lifted directly from the video on YouTube including the first three 8 counts and then another long dance phrase before the minute mark.

My first reaction was one of profound disappointment, like what I feel when one of my children does something that they knew that they should not have done. I'm not angry, just very disappointed. This teacher has been a constant in my daughter's life for a very long time. My daughter loves her and respects her.

I do not want to tell my daughter that her beloved teacher has stolen choreography, it would break her heart. I don't want to pull my daughter out of that studio because it would also break her heart.

I would like to for my daughter to continue with the teacher, but have her change a significant portion to delete the stolen choreography. I would like to not have to pay for the next 8 hours of choreography. And I would like her promise to never do this again or I will notify the studio where she teaches and the choreographer she stole from. I have videos of her teaching the stolen choreography to my daughter. I will keep this issue private between us as long as my conditions are met.

What are your suggestions?

Aparent

25 Replies to Stolen Choreography

re: Stolen Choreography
By Gavrilushka Comments: 872, member since Wed Jul 11, 2012
On Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:42 PM
Not a judge, but a teacher.

This situation really sucks. :( Well the only thing you can really do is bring this up with the teacher. I suggest you read through all of the competition guidelines and highlight all of those related to plagiarism and what could happen in the event of plagiarism. Go to the teacher and tell her that you do not want to risk your daughter being disqualified over this and how that would negatively impact on her self esteem. Some competitions will outright ban teachers and/studios from ever entering again.

However, in some cases, choreography is 'free for use' if you contact the choreographer, so make sure you do that too if the teacher says that it was fine. If no permission was given you might be best finding a new teacher.

Good luck.
re: Stolen Choreography
By hummingbird Comments: 10418, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:57 PM
Is this teacher the studio owner or not? You weren't clear about this in your post.If they are employed by a studio then it's the Studio owner that needs to handle this, you need to inform them of the situation and let them handle it.

If this is not the case then let us know and we might be able to give you better advice.
re: Stolen Choreography
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Aug 24, 2014 01:25 PM
Since your "proposal" for the teacher to "meet your conditions" essentially amounts to blackmail ("do what I say, or I ruin your career!"), uh...this makes you look kind of crazy too. Because this is an ethical issue, and one that could affect his/her studio long term, you need to go to the boss. Tell the SO, and then keep your hands out of it. She'll work it out, you won't have to blackmail anybody, and your reputation among the studios in the area can stay in tact.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Sun Aug 24, 2014 04:27 PM
Well, that "Blackmail" reply is interesting. I wouldn't call it blackmail, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just don't do something that you know is wrong and then expect that there will be no consequences.

I met with the teacher who is also the "studio" owner yesterday. She actually rents evening studio space from a Christian studio which mainly teaches homeschool students during the school day. And this teacher also teaches at a prestigious Ballet school in our area.

She was a bit taken aback that I had found the original entire video on YouTube. She worked hard to explain that she had the permission of the original choreographer to use the piece and insisted that she had helped choreograph the original piece. She even offered to give me their telephone number, which I declined.

I find that hard to believe that she permission to use that piece since the named choreographer has a national reputation and this teacher is not listed in the credits. The other choreographer is based across the country and that other girl lives in that area, not ours. She said that she used it in order to "save us time".

She said that she wanted my daughter to be dance like this other girl, but that girl is a completely different body type and different style of dancer and older than my daughter. It would be impossible for my daughter to look like the other girl with a few hours of choreography and she wouldn't want to anyway!

I still made it clear that even if she had that choreographer's permission, she did not have my permission to use that choreography for my daughter.

She also mentioned that she gave us a "discounted rate" because she already had this solo that she wanted my daughter to do. I didn't ask for a discounted rate, I just asked her what to write the check for, as I was going to pay her whatever she asked. I've always paid whatever I was told to pay.

I had talked to her last school year, well before my daughter started working with her this Summer that I wanted original choreography, that I wanted her to help my daughter understand how to use the musical phrasing and lyrics to tell the story of the solo and to highlight my daughter's unique abilities and to include her favorite steps. However, I did not reiterate my position when they began working together. So I will take the blame for that part.

My daughter would be devastated to leave this studio at this time. The teacher cut the music and my daughter has started learning the solo. Even though a lot of what has been learned will have to be changed, the disruption of leaving the studio would not be good for my daughter. She really loves this teacher as do I.

So I am willing to chalk this up to a communications error and take some of the blame for not making my position crystal clear at the beginning.

I told her that I preferred that she scrap most of the old choreography from the other choreographer, that my daughter would be devastated to go somewhere else. We agreed to go forward to collectively to work on a solo which highlights my daughter's strengths and tells the story of the lyrics.

We agreed to keep this matter private between the two of us. I told her that I did not want to discuss this with my daughter. I told her that I wanted her to make the choreography changes as if that was the plan all along and to consult my daughter as to what she liked. And I wanted her to be openly willing to try my suggestions so that there would not appear to be any conflict between us.

My daughter gets the final say in what she dances, if she likes my suggestions or her teachers suggestions, then fine, and if she doesn't, then that is fine also. It is ultimately to be HER SOLO, one that she feels confident in, one that shows her to the best of her abilities.

I told her that I didn't want to be taken as being one of the "Dance Moms" but that I would be at all of the choreography sessions.

I asked the teacher if she actually wanted to still work with my daughter without telling her that I thought that others should know about the other solo, and she said that she did want to work with my daughter. I told her that I don't want to force her to work with my daughter, and she said that she wanted to work with my daughter. I also asked her if she had actually wanted to work with my daughter on the solo to begin with or if she felt pressured to work with her and she said that she did want to work with my daughter from the beginning.

She said that she thought that I didn't trust her any longer. I told her that I now trusted that she would only work out original choreography with and for my daughter. I understand if she uses her own combinations which she has already taught in class or used in her own recitals, but that not more than partial 8 counts of other choreographers can be used. I understand that in the vocabulary of dance that often one step usually naturally follows another but everything can be tweaked so that it doesn't exactly match someone else's choreography. I told her that everyone can make mistakes, that mistakes in communication happen all of the time and that now that we have discussed this issue, I am capable of putting this issue aside and going forth as if there was never any difficulty between us.

However, changes to the choreography have to be made in order for it not to look like the other solo. I do not want my daughter to be humiliated by disqualification and it makes me sick that her teacher would put her in the position where she could unwittingly be in that position.

With school starting, I don't know how much time my daughter will have to work on the solo. Or how much time the teacher will have or make for her. So using the other choreography has actually cost us 10 hours of rehearsal time, (I counted up what I have spent and it was 10 hours, not 8).

My daughter was having a hard time with what she was given and perhaps it will go quicker when choreography suited for her is actually used.

I also did not tell the teacher that I wanted rehearsal time free which is equal to what I have already spent. But I'll see if she does the right thing when I ask her what amount I should put on the next check. Whatever amount she tells me is what I'll write the check for, but even if this year works out, I probably won't hire her next year. My daughter will, if she chooses, still take ballet classes from this teacher as long as it possible.

The teacher says that she will send us the class schedule for the school year and that she will make time to work with my daughter on the solo.

I am a little skeptical that she will actually follow through as I still don't think that she was telling the truth when she said that she had the permission of the other choreographer, and she has thrown other students out of her studio for various transgressions by them or their parents.

So only time will tell if this all works out or not. Mainly for my daughter's sake, I hope that it does. If The teacher drops my daughter from her studio I will check first with the other choreographer to see if the two of them have ever worked together and then I'll make my decision as to how to proceed. I really hope that it all works out.
re: Stolen Choreography
By SiyoNqobamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7113, member since Fri Aug 02, 2002
On Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:57 PM
Well, it sounds like you've done what you planned to do, so I hope it works out for you.

I just wanted to give you some advice to help you not appear to be one of those "Dance Moms" :)

aparent wrote:

And I wanted her to be openly willing to try my suggestions so that there would not appear to be any conflict between us.


As a teacher... No. I don't tell you how to do your job, don't tell me how to do mine. I studied for years to be able to teach dancing. Granted, she messed up by allegedly stealing choreography, but if you still trust her, as you claim to, then let her do her job. You may have good suggestions, and she may even try them, but don't expect that. You're paying her to choreograph your daughter's solo, so let her do what you're paying her to do.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Mon Aug 25, 2014 05:28 AM
Hi: Thanks for your perspective.

I am actually paying this teacher to guide my daughter in choreographing her own solo. This is not an art piece where the the choreography is the most important part and the dancer is just the medium used to express the choreographers artistic vision; this is not a recital piece for the studio where it would be only a part of a larger work. This is a solo for my daughter in which the main purpose is to show my daughter's unique abilities while fulfilling the overall judging requirements.

My daughter is old enough to learn how to choreograph for herself. She does not have the dance experience that her teacher has, so yes, I am paying for the dance teacher's experience. But she does know what feels good to her, she has her favorite steps and poses and she needs guidance with the connecting steps and the transitions. She also needs someone to explain musical phrasing and how to fit the dance to the lyric.

What I expected to begin with was that the teacher would ask my daughter what she wanted to include in the solo, then help my daughter work through the options of what feels best to her, and use the music and lyrics to present a cohesive story line for the solo.

I also expected that the solo would make complete use of the dance floor. What was already "taught" to my daughter was only making use of the center of the floor, she was only moving with in a few steps of the center. The solo was going to look like it had been choreographed in her bedroom.

There was a portion already taught where my daughter began a phrase in one corner and moved to the center with a couple of jumps, then went back to the original area. I suggested that she continue to move diagonally across the floor in order to use an area which had not been used yet and to continue the flow of the musical phrase. The teacher actively resisted having my daughter try any other possibilities. She resisted any change to "her choreography". But it wasn't "her" choreography, It was someone elses choreography, it wasn't choreography suited to the song or style of music that my daughter had picked out.

I am not a completely ignorant "Dance Mom". I play a musical instrument. Years ago, I professionally taught another form of dance and have choreographed professionally for that form of dance. Many more years ago, when I was young, I also took ballet, modern, jazz and tap. I have been out of the dance profession for many years, but although you can take the dancer out of dance, you rarely can take dance our of the dancer.

Choreography still lives within me. I see music and lyrics as shapes and movement.

My daughter needs to be heard when she says that something isn't working for her and needs to be able to change a movement to something else. She needs to be given options and allowed to pick what feels right and she needs explanations of what certain movements convey to the audience and judges and how to use syncopation and the rise and fall of the music and lyrics. That is what I thought we were paying for to begin with. The teacher has done that with one of my other children. I expected the same this time. Not someone else's choreography to an entirely different piece of music.

I stayed out of the way and "let her do her job" to begin with this time. But she did not do her job adequately.

Hopefully, for the benefit of my daughter, everything will work out well. now.
re: Stolen Choreography
By FDIC Comments: 22, member since Tue Jul 15, 2014
On Mon Aug 25, 2014 05:56 AM
Save the dilemma of an argument and ask if your daughter can have a private lesson and can she choreograph a new solo from scratch just for your daughter as both of your hearts are not in the dance routine. Any teacher would not want a child to dance a routine they do not feel like they can enjoy.
re: Stolen Choreography (karma: 1)
By SiyoNqobamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7113, member since Fri Aug 02, 2002
On Tue Aug 26, 2014 02:09 AM
Okay, if you said to her from outset, "We want you to guide [daughter] in choreographing her own solo," then that is fantastic. I actually have a student about to start doing similar, though she has been competing for several years. But your daughter is not you. If you're paying the teacher to help your daughter choreograph her own dance, then that's fantastic, but it doesn't mean that you get any say. It means that the teacher should be working with your daughter to find the best way to present your daughter's creative vision (if you didn't specify this with the teacher from the outset, please understand that competition choreography doesn't typically work this way, and next time you'll benefit from discussing your specific terms before beginning).

You are absolutely right when you say that your daughter needs to be listened to when she says something isn't working for her, and that it's important for her to learn all aspects of choreography. But it is the teacher's job to do that, and that doesn't involve you.

I hope I'm not coming across harsh. I understand that it's difficult when you feel like you have some experience in this area, and so can offer suggestions (goodness help me if my daughter ever decides to do ballroom, which I did competitively for a while when I was younger!). But you said you're concerned about "transgressing," and being asked to leave the studio as a result, so I'm just trying to offer some insight to help with that. My parents don't even sit in the studio while I teach competition choreography, they sit in the waiting room and watch through the viewing window, unless I invite them in to film the dance or to explain something that needs to be done during practice. I do involve my dancers in the choreography of their solos, I always make sure it feels right to them and that they're enjoying it, and I often take their suggestions, though perhaps tweaking them a bit so they fit in with the theme of the dance. It would really, really get on my nerves to have a parent sitting in the room making suggestions all the time, and expecting that those suggestions will always be used.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Tue Aug 26, 2014 05:11 AM
Hi: Thanks for your input.
It really seems like most of the responses are from teachers, not judges. I'd really like to hear the opinion of judges on what happens when they recognize that choreography has been used in another dance. And what they think when they see choreography which does not fit the song or the dancer's body type.
I do not expect that my suggestions will always be used, just considered, tried out a few times and then have my daughter make the decision as to whether she wants to use something or not. The options are what is necessary, not having the teacher "teach" choreography which was worked out or stolen from someone else before the rehearsal session. If the solo is being crafted on my daughter during the rehearsal session, it will be an original piece.
When the teacher was "teaching" the "original" choreography, I felt uncomfortable from the first session, it just did not fit my daughter or the song. Now we know why.
I was respectful of the teacher, and after offering a suggestion that my daughter continue diagonally across the floor which was ignored, I didn't insist that my suggestions be attempted. If I had spoken up then, 10 hours of rehearsal time which cannot be replaces would have been saved.
If she had done her job correctly the first time, I wouldn't be insisting that I have as much involvement now. But she didn't do the job, this is my daughter's solo, I am paying for it and I expect that the product that we get is a good one. Not recycled crap from YouTube.
Just to make sure that my daughter is getting original choreography crafted on her, I'm watching the entire process. If the teacher doesn't offer my daughter options, doesn't explain to her how to make a step fit the music and tell the story, and if it appears that she is "shoehorning" my daughter into choreography which doesn't fit, I am speaking up at that moment. Not waiting and hoping that it works out.
Choreography is not a "one size fits all" T-shirt.
If this works out where the end product is a solo that my daughter likes, is comfortable and confident in performing, then if my daughter chooses to work with this teacher again next year, I'll back off and stay our of the process next year.
re: Stolen Choreography
By dancerxiv Comments: 113, member since Thu May 10, 2012
On Tue Aug 26, 2014 05:33 AM
It depends on the competition you would go to. I have judged before but I am also a teacher. We had an instructor a few years back who choreographed a dance and it happened to be a similar theme to a dance done on SYTYCD... Which I didn't realize at the time. The choreography was different but idea was the same. We scored really low at one comp because of lack of originiality because they had seen the piece. We scored really high at another because they hadn't. If you're simply looking at it from a judges point of view than you have to consider what the chances are that they have seen this YouTube video. Has the dance been done at this particular comp? Additionally, I've noticed that it is important for the dance to fit the student doing it... But sometimes I have choreographed dances for my students for comps that were totally opposite their style and outside of their norm to challenge them to rise up and diversify their regular movement style. I'm not saying that this is what your teacher was thinking necessarily, but everything you learn in dance is a learning experience and there is a chance she may have been trying to expand your daughters typically comfort zone to grow her more. I dont know... Using someone else's choreo isn't something I would do but as a teacher and I can't imagine it being done by an otherwise good teacher without a reason. I also say that to say that there is no reason your daughter shouldnt score well with any choreo as long as she works it enough to make it her own.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Tue Aug 26, 2014 05:43 AM
HI : Thanks so much for your opinion. I realize that there would be only a chance that a judge would have seen the choreography which was crafted for a different student. But why would the teacher even take the chance, or rather, why would she even take the chance that my daughter would suffer the consequences of her stealing the choreography? It is one thing to dance "in the style Of", or as a tribute to choreographers you admire, it is entirely different to teach choreography which was stolen from someone else.
If this had not been my daughter's first solo, (this is not one of the "competition studios"), it would have been more appropriate to "challenge" my daughter with a different style. But this is her first competition and she should be able to dance something that she is comfortable with, not trying to dance something that was crafted for a different song and a different dancer.
re: Stolen Choreography (karma: 1)
By Sumayah Comments: 6876, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Wed Aug 27, 2014 03:36 PM
At my studio, dancers must first get permission from the company director to do a solo, then they have to get permission to self-choreograph. They choose the music, but it also has to be approved before choreography begins - the director has the power to veto the song and ask them to select something different. Often the dancer will present the director with options and let the director choose from the options what they feel will best suit the dancer.

Then the dancer rents studio time to choreograph. Once some choreography has been set (1/3 to 1/2 of the music), the director will come view and approve the direction the solo is going. At that point, the dancer can pay for the director or other teacher to come in and make suggestions and clean. Same again once the solo is finished. Usually, the dancers know their strong points, but have difficulty with transitions and that's what the director or teacher will help them to implement. Costuming has to also be approved by the director.

aparent wrote:

We wanted choreography which highlighted my daughter's strengths but also fulfills the major requirements that the judges are looking for in a solo.

This statement concerns me. Judges do not have a check list:
  • fouette turns
  • illusion
  • 180+side tilt
  • penche
  • switch leap
  • switch second
  • triple pirouette
  • quadruple+ pirouette
  • pirouette combo with 180 extension, at least triple
  • aerial
  • front walkover
  • etc...

Judges are looking for how competent the dancer is with their choreography. Obvious things are pointed feet, extended lines, using the space, using levels (i.e. floor work, working low, medium, and in the air), and their technical prowess in executing the moves. Less obvious things are how well they connect to the music with their movement, their expression, the story they are telling. Those are far more important in my opinion. Too many solos are trick, trick, trick, shake your butt and/or reach dramatically out to the audience, trick, trick, tilt, trick, pirouttes, trick, final pose. I'd rather see dancing with a solid story and technique than fouettes into an illusion into a saut de chat into more pirouettes. Yes, it's great if you can do the tricks, but tricks do not a good dance make, a good dancer makes a good dance.

If the teacher is guiding your daughter in creating her own solo, which is what it sounds like you're after, you need to be clear with the teacher. If you paid for choreography to be set, which is what sounds like what happened, then you need to trust the teacher to set the work on your dancer. If you do not like the finished product, you are within your rights to scrap it all together, call it a learning lesson, and start anew.
re: Stolen Choreography (karma: 3)
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Wed Aug 27, 2014 04:48 PM
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2014-08-27 16:49:53 ..
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2014-08-27 16:51:34 ,,
I have started this post several times and erased it...I tried to sugar coat this, but I just can't. I'm going to be direct, and tell you my feelings as a judge, former dance company owner, and teacher, and I realize it sounds harsh (it probably is harsh). You sound like a nightmare to work with and maybe that is just how your written post is coming off, but I'm really surprised the teacher wants to continue with this project. I realize you summed it up the best way you could and we might not know all the intricate details, but there are severe problems with the way this is going.

In my opinion, if your daughter wanted to do a self choreographed solo, then she should have cut the music, had the piece fully choreographed from start to finish, and then had the teacher make some suggestions. If it is a self choreographed piece, then the teacher shouldn't be doing ANY choreography at all, and just changing a few transitions, or staging. If she has choreographed parts and your daughter has choreographed other parts, it's going to look like a patchwork quilt without flow and without continuity. You should be more concerned about that, than some judge possibly knowing choreography from you tube (which is so unlikely.) Judges are sitting their for 8 hours at a time or more and they aren't going to say, "hey that jete into the floor roll looked just like this girl on you tube." If she does win an award and they ask her who choreographed it what is she going to say? It's not the teacher's choreo and not hers. I guess you can say "co choreographers" but again, WHY would you want that?

Choreography is very hard to copyright, and we all have a style and reuse certain transitions in and out of steps and borrow from other teachers and dancers. I could never promise a student that every 8 counts is original and nobody has ever done it before in that way. That is just ridiculous. I do understand hiring someone and having the expectation that it isn't copied from you tube. I hired a professional tapper from another city to set a competition piece...I found out 6 months later he did the EXACT same piece in Michigan. We could have easily met up at nationals with the same dance...same chore AND the same song. I was furious, but I never asked if this was original. I would have even felt better if he taught it to another group a year or two ago, but the same exact year??? Anyway... I do understand you being upset, but you didn't really hire her to choreograph the entire piece, so I'm not sure I'd be this upset due to the situation and her borrowing bits and pieces. I do understand that using choreography that matches one song usually doesn't work with another (if done properly) so this other choreo probably looks like it is crow barred into the framework and was a bad decision to use. Perhaps she just wanted your daughter to have that look, style and make some of the steps similar, but her own? I don't know...I'm not in her head.

If you want something custom for your daughter, then she can't choreograph it. Yes my students have input on steps or timing that isn't working, but there is no way a student or a mother is going to tell me how to do my job, or that they demand something changed because there is a reason I choreographed it like that, and a solo should also push you outside of your comfort zone and make you work at a step that you can't do immediately. How do you grow if you aren't challenged? If the chore is too easy, any decent judge will see that...and once again you should be worried about that. There is a balance between too hard and too easy, and I would suggest trusting your choreographer and teacher to find that balance, not you and certainly not your daughter. If this teacher doesn't have a good grasp on that, then find someone else that does. You are not a professional teacher and choreographer in this dance form. While I respect that you know more than the average dance parent, its really not in your child's best interest to micromanage this situation, sit in on the rehearsals, jump in on everything that is now wrong etc. This is a recipe for disaster. I'm not sure how the teacher could even be creative at this point.

If you know what you want for your daughter, then maybe you could work with her while she is choreographing it so that you will be happy and won't have someone else to blame. OR just start fresh with someone new.

I really didn't want to come across as attacking you, so I hope some of my comments have been constructive.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Wed Aug 27, 2014 07:32 PM
HI Thanks for your input. I do appreciate it, well, not so much the part where I am called a "nightmare to work with", but everyone is entitled to their opinion, but most of the rest of your message is insightful.


You missed my point when I said that I wanted only fragments of others choreography. That I am asking for the impossible as so much of choreography can be similar. I just don't want recycled YouTube choreography passed off as original choreography.

I know that the vocabulary of dance is such that some movements naturally follow others and that there is very rarely anything new anymore. And there are trends in solos and quite often several are similar at the same competition. Quite often there are segments of dances which are the same from solo to solo. But they aren't direct copies. Sometimes there are unexpected groups of steps, but those are rare.


You mention that you paid for choreography and then saw the same choreography to the same song performed by other students and you were furious at that time. That is where I am now, newly upset about the situation. I feel like the last 10 hours of rehearsal time over the Summer have been wasted and with school starting, I don't know when my daughter will have the time to rehearse.

The video clip that the teacher sent to me was sent to me labeled as "original choreography". It just looked to polished, so I searched on YouTube for the song. Finding the exact same video on YouTube was a shock as it was obviously not HER original choreography. It was someone else's original choreography. My daughter's teacher was not visible in the video nor was she credited in the info attached to the video. I don't think that she had the choreographers permission to use it, but even if she did have their permission, she did not have my permission to use it on my daughter.

That is not what I believe is right and it was not what I paid for. If I wanted my daughter to dance something from YouTube, we wouldn't have hired the teacher to teach her. If we were the types to use YouTube to find an entire dance, that is obviously easy to do. But that isn't our style, and I am not standing still while someone teaches my daughter stolen choreography, I want my daughter to grow up to be an honest person.

This is my daughter's first solo. She deserves to have a solo that she feels comfortable doing. She deserves to have a solo that presents her in her best light. Period.

The choreography already taught to her does neither. It looks, in your words, "crowbarred". It just didn't fit either my daughter or the song. Period.

Maybe it will be a nightmare for the teacher with my overlooking the solo rehearsal, but it would have been even more of a nightmare for US if my daughter had learned the choreography, if we continued to allow the teacher to force her into movements which do not suit her, if she had competed the choreography and THEN it was discovered that nearly the entire dance was directly lifted from a well respected choreographer. She could have been disqualified. And even if she wasn't disqualified, there is no chance that she would have earned a decent score. How do you think that would make her feel, being punished for someone else's bad decision? Would anyone want that for their child?

This is her first solo. I hope that everyone understands that I'd like for it to be a good experience for her. I am much more concerned with my daughter's experience than I am with the teacher's feelings now.

My involvement is the direct consequence of her selling us stolen choreography. Fool me once, shame on you, but she isn't fooling me twice. If the choreography is worked out on the rehearsal floor on my daughter, then I know that it wasn't lifted from YouTube. I will be very respectful of the teacher if I offer any suggestions. I expect the same respect from her towards me and my daughter. And my daughter gets the final say in what feels right to her.

I don't think that because "everyone does it" is justification for doing something that is wrong. Period.

I do appreciate everyone's opinion. Thank you all.
re: Stolen Choreography
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 02:06 AM
aparent wrote:

If the choreography is worked out on the rehearsal floor on my daughter,


Yes, I am totally ignoring the stolen aspect of this, I agree that stealing choreography sucks. But I just want to address this point I have quoted, I try to never, ever go into a class with nothing planned, I have choreography and movement, phrases and movements, that I have done in preparation (that yes, we tweak in rehearsal) because I think it is utterly disrespectful to my lesson to fartarse around creating choreography that may or not work and if it doesn't work we are just going to throw away. And yes, I know, I know, your daughter has lost 10 hours blah blah, but there is going to be a hell of a lot more hours wasted now with no lesson prep (and darntootin' if I had a parent make some of your demands I would be going in intentionally with no prep and NOTHING planned and bill hours!)
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 05:35 AM
Thanks so much to the judge who posted the list of what judges are NOT looking for. It validated what I have thought all along. I get so bored watching someone crank out turn after turn and just don't get me started on the "crotch shot TILT" in the audience's direction. And my number one pet peeve is a solo which is dance in a tiny area because it was probably choreographed in her bedroom.

What you listed in what a judge is looking for is what I want for my daughter.That was what I was talking about when I said that the dance should fit my daughter and show off her strengths while fulfilling the judges requirements.

The "choreography" that has been taught to my daughter did not use the floor at all and was half way finished. We hired the teacher so that my daughter could use a large dance floor to learn on so that she would be able to use a large amount of the floor when performing. One of those TILT moves was already in there, the teacher would not change either the direction or the step so that my daughter would not be giving everyone a "crotch shot". A strength move that my daughter cannot do was replaced with another movement only at my daughters repeated insistence.

To those of you who are disregarding the time (10 rehearsal hours plus travel time to and from the studio) and money lost, think about these things. The next time that you have a contractor at your house for 10 hours, you then realize that you have to choose between having it all ripped out and starting over or just live with the crappy job. And if you start over, you have to deal with the contractor deliberately taking even more time and expecting that you will stay off site and trust them to do the job to your satisfaction. Or the next time that you have your car repaired, you spend hours at the shop, and it still doesn't work right. So you go back repeatedly, but it still doesn't work. After about 10 hours of this, you find out that the repair guy never worked on what was originally wrong, but has just been doing whatever they want for all of those hours. And now they might want to work on the original problem, but they don't want you to ask any questions. Or when you order a hand made product that you really want and that takes a lot of time to make and ship, then when the product arrives and is not what you expected, (wrong color, wrong size, wrong material),the craftsperson says that you either take it the way that it is or you are insulting them by telling them what you do want.
How would you feel in those situations? You trusted someone to do something correctly to begin with. Will you just sit back and let them do what they want the next time?

My daughter loves this teacher. I don't want to leave this studio. I truly believe that a good solo can be crafted for my daughter. If we can now find the time for her to rehearse.
re: Stolen Choreography
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 06:31 AM
aparent wrote:

To those of you who are disregarding the time (10 rehearsal hours plus travel time to and from the studio) and money lost, think about these things. The next time that you have a contractor at your house for 10 hours, you then realize that you have to choose between having it all ripped out and starting over or just live with the crappy job. And if you start over, you have to deal with the contractor deliberately taking even more time and expecting that you will stay off site and trust them to do the job to your satisfaction. Or the next time that you have your car repaired, you spend hours at the shop, and it still doesn't work right. So you go back repeatedly, but it still doesn't work. After about 10 hours of this, you find out that the repair guy never worked on what was originally wrong, but has just been doing whatever they want for all of those hours. And now they might want to work on the original problem, but they don't want you to ask any questions. Or when you order a hand made product that you really want and that takes a lot of time to make and ship, then when the product arrives and is not what you expected, (wrong color, wrong size, wrong material),the craftsperson says that you either take it the way that it is or you are insulting them by telling them what you do want.
How would you feel in those situations? You trusted someone to do something correctly to begin with. Will you just sit back and let them do what they want the next time? .


But, if I had been in your situation, I would have fired the choreographer. You aren't getting your time back, you aren't getting your money back (unless you insist, which in the above examples, I would have been making a fuss for a refund and then taken my business elsewhere), and you are starting again. I would be starting again with a brand new choreographer, with very clear expectations from day one, and then letting them do their job.

Ordered a hand made one of a kind product and had it arrive "wrong", been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Did I upset the craftsman when I sent it back and asked for a refund, yes, yes I did, did I insist on that refund for a product that wasn't what I ordered, yes, yes I did. Did I take my business elsewhere, yes, yes I did. Did my mother get her birthday present on time, no, no she didn't. She got an explanation and she loved the correct product when I finally received it from the second business. I didn't stand the workshop and watch the second craftsman every session he worked on my item, I didn't question every step he took. I explained what I wanted, I explained what had just happened and why I was unhappy with my previous item from a different (unidentified) craftsman, and then I trusted him to do his job.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 08:07 AM
Yeah, you think that it would have been simple to just fire the choreographer and go somewhere else. But this is my daughters dance teacher whom we have known over 10 years and my daughter loves her. We would also have to leave the studio. I don't want to have to take my daughter elsewhere with out an explanation to her and I don't want to have to tell her that her beloved teacher tried force her to dance stolen choreography. I just don't want my daughter to have to see the feet of clay of one of her favorite people.

To the person who made it clear to the craft person on their second attempt at a unique item, how would you feel if they ignored your instructions and sent out another crappy piece or even SOMEONE ELSE'S piece and expected you to be happy with that? How many more times would you "stay out of the craft room"?. And in our case, if there isn't enough practice time left for my daughter to have a solo that she is confident in performing on a certain date, thats it, she doesn't have another chance this entire year. There are no rain checks or "your Birthday present will be late, but you will get one". Time runs out and my daughter pays the price.
re: Stolen Choreography (karma: 1)
By hummingbird Comments: 10418, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 08:08 AM
Edited by hummingbird (128773) on 2014-08-28 08:13:31
I don't know many choreographers who make everything up on the spot, most of us come in with notes and our choreography ready to work with, we don't just stand there and go,"Ummmm, so what are we going to do tonight then Brains?"

If you're not happy with the choreographer then don't work with them! It doesn't matter if there haven't been any issues in ten years, this would be the time to move on. I'm talking about this from a choreographer and a mom's point of view, I have a dancing daughter and I think we would have moved on in this case.

Have you any idea how much of a painful situation you're going to create for all of you if you continue with the route you're planning? How would you like to do a job of work with some one breathing over your shoulder all the time?

If I had a contractor that did such an awful job I wouldn't get them back in my house again. I'd find another contractor. Why are you still insisting on sticking with this contractor?
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 09:23 AM
My daughter has always wanted to work with this teacher until she leaves for college. She loves this teacher. I don't want to break my daughter's heart.
re: Stolen Choreography
By hummingbird Comments: 10418, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 02:15 PM
aparent wrote:

My daughter has always wanted to work with this teacher until she leaves for college. She loves this teacher. I don't want to break my daughter's heart.


Seriously? I think there's more chance of you breaking your daughters heart if you put her in this untenable position making her work with someone who has technically cheated her.
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 02:37 PM
Thanks for your concern for my daughter, I really appreciate it.

My daughter does not know that the teacher was teaching her stolen choreography. Changes will simply be made with the explanation given that it is time to "tweak" some things. Even though the real reason is to make sure that the opening is not identical to a solo which was competed twice last year and was choreographed by someone else.

I am hoping that the teacher and I can set aside this issue and that the choreography worked on from now on fits my daughter, is not stolen from YouTube, and that my daughter has a good experience for her first solo.

The teacher has told me that she can do that. I know that I can set this aside and go forward for the benefit of my daughter. Only time will tell how this works out.

Everyone makes mistakes. I am putting this on the shelf of "miscommunication". I didn't make my expectations crystal clear before the rehearsals started (although I had shared my opinion of what a solo should be several months before and the teacher seemed to agree with me then), and the teacher only told us that she had "staged the solo on another student" instead of asking if we wanted to use a solo almost entirely lifted from someone else's solo.

Hopefully, it will all work out and my daughter will have a good experience. If things get too bad, then I'll have to make the decision then.
re: Stolen Choreography (karma: 1)
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 03:29 PM
aparent wrote:


To the person who made it clear to the craft person on their second attempt at a unique item,.


But there was no second attempt, I got my refund and took my business elsewhere! Second person was great and my mother's birthday present was beautiful. Sucked that it was late, but I wouldn't waste another minute or dollar with the first craftsman. I also didn't expect a second craftsman to throw and fire a pot while I stood there breathing down his neck, commenting on his skills and techniques, because I had moved on I was able to trust him to do his job.

I understand the emotion behind your daughter wanting to stay with the same teacher, but is it really worth this much angst? In your very first post you asked for suggestions, we are giving them! I can't help it if you don't like my suggestion, but it isn't like we are suggesting sacrificing a puppy at the start of every session so the teacher listens to you (although maybe that is what you want us to suggest). Giving reasons why you think my suggestion is wrong, that's OK, I don't agree with you and wonder why you are beating a dead horse, that is the world we don't all agree.

I also know teachers are human, and as much as it is fantastic your daughter wants to stay with this teacher till she leaves for college, that she has that connection with thus teacher, none of that means diddlysquat if the teacher gets a job interstate next year and moves away. I have broken kids hearts when I ave moved on, but it is my life to live, and in every single case, they got over it!
re: Stolen Choreography
By aparent Comments: 20, member since Sat Aug 23, 2014
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 08:14 PM
Thanks, I do get your point.

I do appreciate everyone's opinions, although it seems like the choices are A) leave the studio, or B) stay out of the rehearsal space if we stay. But I did that to begin with and look where it got us.

If the teacher moved, then my daughter would understand. But she isn't likely to move out of state for a variety of reasons. If we left the studio, I'd have to tell my daughter why. And I really don't want her to know. It would break her heart.

I hope that it all works out where we can just put it all on the shelf labeled "miscommunication" and move on.
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