Video and Sound Blog Post One
“Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.” – Bill Gates to Steve Jobs after Jobs had found out about Windows
In college, I took several choreography classes. We had many long discussions on original movement, being influenced from those around you, and flat out ripping off. We discussed the progress of technique and movement as it trickled down from Isadora Duncan to Martha Graham to Mark Morris, etc. We talked about Beyoncé being accused of stealing from a Belgian choreographer. We watched as certain moves became ‘trendy’ and popped up in student and faculty works alike.
During the spring semester there was a fascinating three week span where one weekend was the dance faculty showcase, followed by the senior capstone show, followed by a showing from the Choreography I class. It was impossible not to notice this trickledown effect of influence. Whether it was the incorporation of more gestural movement, patterns of spacing out dancers on the stage, or finding a way to embrace the stillness; it was impossible not to notice these ideas reincarnated from one show to the next. When we discussed these findings in my choreography class, many of us stated that this was done unconsciously. Can it still be called plagiarism if it was done unknowingly? I personally believe that if you can show whoever you were influenced by your recreated art (in whatever medium you work in) with your head held high, then you are free from the ugly word of plagiarism. This word which can scare artists out of doing the one thing they want to do – improve upon the world they were given. If you are proud to display your new work to the ones who unknowingly gave you the inspiration, then it means you repurposed their work into something new as oppose to writing your name on something that was never yours. It may not be a better piece of work, but this act of exploration of the arts should not be limited by todays verbose and out dated copyright laws.