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How do you protect your choreography? (karma: 2)  en>fr fr>en
By taps2much Comments: 442, member since Mon Oct 22, 2007
On Tue May 17, 2011 08:22 PM

Hey there!

This is the second time this year that I have found out students are performing my choreography for talent shows and such without my permission.

I am very flexible with things and if asked I will work with you to modify the choreography so it can be a solo (free of charge), but this time it really annoyed me because it is a group recital number that has not even been performed yet.

I had yet another conversation about intellectual property with the kids and I am sure that I am going to include guidelines about it in next years contract.

How do you go about protecting your choreography? Do you have anything set in your annual contract? I know I am more protective of it than most, but it's not just steps to me...this is my art. I am looking forward to your replies :)

-Taps

25 Replies to How do you protect your choreography?

re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6118, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Tue May 17, 2011 08:32 PM
Edited by topphilly (207347) on 2011-05-17 20:36:32 added "the moon"
I'm not much help, I'm afraid.

I find that everyone does things their own way anyway, and in the case of a school talent show when there are kids who are not from my classes, where I don't have the opportunity to rehearse the kids myself, and insist on proper technique, etc, I'd rather not have my name on it.

Does the piece look identical to yours? Does someone else claim choreography credit?

If not, maybe it's not such a big deal.

I'm sorry this is bugging you. It isn't often I have an opportunity "to give someone the moon". Hope this will cheer you up!

Keep On Dancing*

Comment #9569687 deleted
Edited by topphilly (207347) on 2011-05-17 20:53:21 oops
Removed by hummingbird (128773) on 2011-05-17 21:26:47 Ooops again :)

re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By taps2much Comments: 442, member since Mon Oct 22, 2007
On Tue May 17, 2011 08:45 PM
unfortunately the student is performing my exact choreography (as a solo, not adjusting formations which should look a bit odd, lol. No choreographer listed). I am sure she will be wonderful and overall I am quite flattered that she wanted to perform the number for her peers, I just wish she had asked first.

It will be what it will be this time (honestly I'm really glad it's her and not any of the other kids in the number performing it as a solo!), but I am really looking for a way to prevent this in the future.


thanks for your thoughts on the subject, If you can think up a way to word something in next years contract I would really love to get your input :)

-taps
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By MissAshleyRose Comments: 239, member since Wed Aug 26, 2009
On Wed May 18, 2011 07:56 AM
Last year 2 girls in my hip hop class gathered a group from their neighborhood and taught them my entire recital dance and did it at the talent show as "self choreographed"....aaaand 2 of the girls they taught it to were students that had left my class the year before. It was annoying but unfortunately Im not sure what we can really do to avoid it. sue? haha
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By DaDancingPsych Comments: 2947, member since Wed Dec 18, 2002
On Wed May 18, 2011 09:31 AM
If the choreography is for an upcoming performance, you can always play to their "team spirit". "It's unfair to your classmates that you reveal the dance that we have been working on for months before everyone gets to perform it."

I think you can also stress that if they ask you that will offer your assistance with ensuring that what is selected will look great on the student.

I suppose you could also have it be part of your policy that anyone who uses choreography without permission will be dismissed from the school.

I think you also need to compare this to plagiarism or touching someone's property that isn't theirs. Basic rules that they know very young.

I am not sure that ANY of these will work. Education is the key, but they just don't see the work the same way that we do.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member Comments: 7286, member since Sun Apr 18, 2004
On Wed May 18, 2011 10:12 AM
As a teacher, there isn't much you can really do without talking it over with the Studio Owner. IF that's you, yay! If not, then you need to talk it over with the owner. The only way something like this works is if it's a studio-wide policy that is introduced and then enforced. If it's just you, then the parents of the punished children will simply go above your head and have your boss have you undo whatever punishment you had in mind.

There are a variety of ways you can punish, but the first thing you should always look at is prevention. Every year, when you begin teaching dances, remind the girls that choreography is art, and belongs to the artist. They always need to ask the choreographer if they can use it for a certain event, no matter who the choreographer is. Just because they know the dance doesn't mean it's theirs to replicate.

Further, keep tabs on the school events. One of my studios had a newsletter with performances coming up featuring students at the studio, and I think that could easily be applied here. Look thorugh the school newsletters, websites, and ask the kids about events coming up. It might dissuade them from using your choreography if you're asking about it (and they know they shouldn't use your choreography). So, a month before, ask the class about if they are doing talent routines for their school. There's an element of general interest--it's always nice to know when your kids are performing and can come watch--however, part of it can be a reminder that they should think through what they plan on performing.

As for post-event, you should probably have a studio-wide rule in place. They could be dismissed from performing troupes/companies, if they are involved in them, they can be put on suspension, they could be removed from a dance or placed in a less desirable location in the dance. You could keep them in the dance, but have them sit out of class, or even fine them. You could also try something involving the parents, like having a parent-meeting at the beginning of the year to talk about dance etiquette, and how using choreography is wrong, how you plan on dealing with it at the studio but gently reminding them that they should keep tabs on their students and know that it is inappropriate to steal choreography like that without permission. I know if my parents had a meeting like that, if they caught me doing something against that rule I would be in hot water for weeks!

But, I really don't think it's fair to punish them severely unless the rule was laid out before hand and you have your boss's blessing.

I agree, we SHOULD be able to protect our choreography. I think it's very unfair that stealing choreography occurs so often while ripping off a painting or a song is caught and prosecuted quickly. Part of teaching students should be giving them character, and ethical/moral fiber that they will be able to turn to without needing rules or punishments.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By DancerGirl05 Comments: 226, member since Sat Nov 27, 2010
On Wed May 18, 2011 01:12 PM
Don't really have anything to add other than putting guidelines in student contracts next year. This predicament reminded me of a situation with my former teacher. He was actually pulling dances from YouTube, and I remembered thinking, "Wow, how unethical.." I have since stopped taking classes with him obviously because I figure if you can't teach something that comes from you, then what are you even doing teaching, you know? It irritates me so much when people steal intellectual property. Best of luck though. I hope it gets better!
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By NDow Comments: 1286, member since Mon Jul 19, 2010
On Wed May 18, 2011 01:17 PM
Isn't there a way to copyright our choreography? I don't know -- I'm just asking... It would not prevent an over-enthusiastic child from using your recital choreography for her/his talent show, but it might stop other teachers from stealing your material at dance competitions or etc. I'm just curious about it.
re: How do you protect your choreography? (karma: 1)  en>fr fr>en
By eu_dancer_girl Comments: 359, member since Wed Feb 15, 2006
On Wed May 18, 2011 03:55 PM
NDow wrote:

Isn't there a way to copyright our choreography? I don't know -- I'm just asking... It would not prevent an over-enthusiastic child from using your recital choreography for her/his talent show, but it might stop other teachers from stealing your material at dance competitions or etc. I'm just curious about it.


www.msba.org . . .

this explains it pretty well. technically you do not have to do much, you just have to be able to prove it is yours.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Dream_chaserPremium member Comments: 25538, member since Thu Jul 26, 2001
On Wed May 18, 2011 04:09 PM
I never bothered because I never really cared if others saw my work and used it or copied it. I would never use it again because I can do the same piece with the same people, a year later, and do it completely different.

If you are interested in protecting it, then you should have a signed agreement, before you do it. Have it written up by a lawyer to make sure it would hold up in court.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By shannon13 Comments: 707, member since Thu Dec 01, 2005
On Wed May 18, 2011 06:40 PM
Our girls LOVED LOVED LOVED performing their dances for church/school talent shows. I am totally fine with choreography from past year...be my guest use it. The one that did bother me was the "performances" before our performance. A huge group of our kids go to church together so when they would miss a weekend rehearsal to perform a recital dance a week before recital then yes we had a problem with it. The parents of over half our group just saw their kids dances.

We put it in their contract that they needed permission first. I just explained to them I don't mind my dances being used, in fact I am flattered, they should just be saved for after our show. The kids didn't seem to mind and it worked for us. This summer they will all be performing our dances from last weekend.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By NDow Comments: 1286, member since Mon Jul 19, 2010
On Wed May 18, 2011 07:46 PM
Thanks for the info, eu_dancer_girl. That was really interesting. So I guess for those of us hired by studios, it means the only way to protect our work is through contracts?... I wonder if the same is true for teachers who are independent contractors?

I really don't mind the kids using my class pieces, either. Like dreamchaser, when I bring back a dance, it's always different from its initial presentation, since every group is different. Still for some of my concept pieces for the older girls, I'd really like a way to protect the rights to those dances.
re: How do you protect your choreography? (karma: 1)  en>fr fr>en
By DaDancingPsych Comments: 2947, member since Wed Dec 18, 2002
On Thu May 19, 2011 06:45 AM
NDow wrote:

Thanks for the info, eu_dancer_girl. That was really interesting. So I guess for those of us hired by studios, it means the only way to protect our work is through contracts?... I wonder if the same is true for teachers who are independent contractors?


I'm not lawyer, I just play one on DDN, but I think it would come down to how the contract between the independent teacher and studio was written.

If the contract says that the studio owns the choreographer that the teacher does for the school (which I believe is also the default in most cases), then it's not the teacher's to be concerned about anyways. The studio would need to be the entity to take legal action against the student. So, the studio would want to establish the contract between student and studio not allowing it (without permission.)

If by chance the teacher owns it, she is essentially loaning it to the studio for certain performances. Depending on the specific situation, the teacher may need to sue the studio for breach of contract (allowing an unauthorized performance.) Or the case could be built that the student STOLE the choreography. To protect against the first, the studio would probably establish a contract with its students to protect itself. To protect against the later, I don't know that you could. I certainly wouldn't allow a teacher (who wasn't even my employee) to enter into a contract privately with my clientele. The teacher would simply have to build a case that she is the rightful owner and the studio had no permission to use the work.

For my personal needs, this is all a bunch of unnecessary legal junk. A lot of lawsuits (and money) that would only hurt me more in the end. My choreography is “throw away choreography” anyways. I am not creating the sort of pieces that we have from our treasured greats. (I like to think that I could, though.) My choreographer is for a local recital or if I’m lucky, a few competitions. They are designed to specifically show what those students at that age and dance experience have been working on for a year. And I also hope that it entertains that selected audience of adoring parents. In the scheme of things, it's just for a community performance. While I don’t want the kids to ruin the “surprise” for our show, I could careless what happens to it afterwards. No, I would prefer that other professionals don’t steal it for their own, but if it happens, I won’t sweat it. If a kid performs it at a talent show, I wish she’d tell me (mainly so that I can attend), but whatever. In the end, though, I’m not the SO, so I don’t even have a right to say what happens to it.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Dream_chaserPremium member Comments: 25538, member since Thu Jul 26, 2001
On Thu May 19, 2011 08:58 AM
DaDancingPsych wrote:

My choreography is “throw away choreography” anyways. I am not creating the sort of pieces that we have from our treasured greats. (I like to think that I could, though.) My choreographer is for a local recital or if I’m lucky, a few competitions. They are designed to specifically show what those students at that age and dance experience have been working on for a year. And I also hope that it entertains that selected audience of adoring parents. In the scheme of things, it's just for a community performance. While I don’t want the kids to ruin the “surprise” for our show, I could careless what happens to it afterwards. No, I would prefer that other professionals don’t steal it for their own, but if it happens, I won’t sweat it.


That is how I feel. I know that kids want to show off their stuff and if they do it at a talent, or other show, so what? Will someone steal it? Will someone who would have come to the recital say, "Well, I want my ticket money back, I already saw the dance."?

Really, what bad will come of them doing it on the outside? It is a testament to your teaching that they want to show it off. I was always very pleased when they did, even if they are not the best of dancers.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By terpsidance Comments: 1247, member since Wed Sep 24, 2008
On Thu May 19, 2011 10:54 AM
Edited by terpsidance (202228) on 2011-05-19 10:56:38 misspelling
Dream_chaser wrote:

That is how I feel. I know that kids want to show off their stuff and if they do it at a talent, or other show, so what? Will someone steal it? Will someone who would have come to the recital say, "Well, I want my ticket money back, I already saw the dance."?

Really, what bad will come of them doing it on the outside? It is a testament to your teaching that they want to show it off. I was always very pleased when they did, even if they are not the best of dancers.


Completely agree with this. My students don't compete so some of their pieces will only get seen at the year end performance. They wanted to perform their contemporary dance for the talent show this spring. I was delighted that they love that dance so much and would have more than one chance to perform it.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By DaDancingPsych Comments: 2947, member since Wed Dec 18, 2002
On Thu May 19, 2011 11:39 AM
Dream_chaser wrote:

Really, what bad will come of them doing it on the outside? It is a testament to your teaching that they want to show it off. I was always very pleased when they did, even if they are not the best of dancers.


If anything, I think more positive than negative occurs. They dance and all their friends see it and say, "That was super cool!" Our student says, "I'm a student at Super Cool Dance School!" Suddenly, their friends want to dance and guess where they come first...

In the very least, our students get to feel gifted by the skills that we gave them. Hopefully that means they stick with us for another year.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Scattered Comments: 434, member since Tue Oct 05, 2004
On Thu May 19, 2011 12:47 PM
If anything, it gives them a chance to practice in front of an audience.

I understand if other people don't want them doing this, after all, it is your choreography and you have the right to say how and when it is performed, but there are so many others things for me to stress about. I don't have the energy to make a fuss over this one. Parents will always come to shows, whether they've seen the dances or not. The kids are have a good time and get to show off all the work they've done to friends. Just not worth the bother.

But, if another teacher steals my choreography, then you'll hear me!
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Dream_chaserPremium member Comments: 25538, member since Thu Jul 26, 2001
On Thu May 19, 2011 02:24 PM
Even if it is a competition piece, the chance of it being seen or stolen, by doing a local talent show, is so rare.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By liv2dnz Comments: 377, member since Tue Jul 07, 2009
On Sat May 21, 2011 06:50 PM
Agreed. I am very possessive of my choreography because they are like my babies, each piece takes time and care, but if my students want to perform it, by all means. Free publicity, unless of course they put their name as choreographers. :) Then i would definitely frown! :O
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member Comments: 7286, member since Sun Apr 18, 2004
On Sat May 21, 2011 09:26 PM
For me, it's not about my choreography first and foremost. It's about teaching ethical fiber to my students. They should grow up knowing right from wrong, and respecting other's choreography should be a part of that. Copying Wikipedia and passing it off as your own doesn't really hurt anyone but the person copying.

It's better for everyone if students are taught ethics of dance while they are studying dance. Ask permission, and respect the owner's decision.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By turtletoeshoe Comments: 137, member since Tue Jun 03, 2003
On Mon May 23, 2011 01:52 PM
I agree that it is important to teach kids the ethics of borrowing choreography. I think that in most cases, they just don't know. I never would have had the mindset to be thinking that it was not ok to be performing dances I had learned in class. I have never really thought about it, but it is really important to give our students that information so that they can make wise decisions since it can carry into so many situations.

To go along with this, what do you do when a student changes a section of a dance you choreographed? I have a former student that I choreograph competition solos for and the last video she sent me of the dance, she had changed a whole section to make it easier. Honestly, it looks bad. It went from a flowing dance to a section of flopping and rolling on the floor, back to a fluid piece. She did not score as well as she had been scoring before changing my choreography.

I plan on talking to her, but is that something that should be written into a contract before the choreography is done, or do you think there are some dancer license to adjust?

I don't want to steal the thread, but I thought it goes along with the OP situation.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Danceangel1081 Comments: 16, member since Mon Jan 17, 2011
On Tue May 24, 2011 09:34 PM
My problem isn't dancers performing at talent shows. It is their parents posting my choreography on youtube and facebook. We are always telling parents not to but everytime I check I find something of mine out there.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By Triskitmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 5126, member since Mon Jul 22, 2002
On Wed May 25, 2011 12:52 AM
Danceangel1081 wrote:

My problem isn't dancers performing at talent shows. It is their parents posting my choreography on youtube and facebook. We are always telling parents not to but everytime I check I find something of mine out there.


If you aren't happy with the posts of your choreo on youtube and facebook just flag the content and it will be removed.
re: How do you protect your choreography? en>fr fr>en
By liv2dnz Comments: 377, member since Tue Jul 07, 2009
On Wed May 25, 2011 08:50 PM
Edited by liv2dnz (213683) on 2011-05-25 20:51:36
Turtletoeshoe, my son had some choreography done a few years back, and at the first rehearsal (when I paid) we got a receipt where it stated that the choreography was his to perform as he pleased but no choreography was to change. This was also verbalized at first rehearsal. So if the person didn't remember you could always read it. I think if students are borrowing choreographies, you could always have them sign a contract where this is specifically written out in caps.
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