Inspired by vs Stolen From?

Eshta

New member
Hello ladies,

Curious to get your opinion. With the world of the internet being the amazing thing that it is, I often watch youtube clips and think "hey, that move/combo looks great, I want to try it!" and may incorporate it in my current dance vocabulary if I like it. Sometimes I really fall under the spell of particular dancers and as I'm watching a lot of them at a point in time, naturally my dance takes on more of their 'flavour'.

Do you think I am being "inspired by" a particular dancer, or do you think I am "stealing from" that dancer, and what do you think makes the difference?

Just to give you the context of what brought this up, I picked a track I want to perform soon, and by coincidence, one of the dancers whose spell I'm currently under has also danced this track. I obviously watched it ages ago, saw a few things I liked, and naturally they got incorporated in this choreography I'm working on. I happened to just watch that same clip back again having left it alone for so long and noticed that there were a few more similarities than I thought there would be!! Well, to be more precise, there was an air of familiarity rather than a carbon copy of the routine, if that makes more sense.

Now see if you ask me, I would say I was inspired by that dancer, but I wonder how she would feel watching it back?! The reason I personally feel it was "inspired by" was because it was my brain that took the tiny parts and put them together to create a whole. But do you think that is the defining difference?

On a related note, to what degree do you think a dancer "owns" a "move"? I'm sure you've all uttered something along the lines of "omg that's so Randa/Dina/whoever", but to be honest so many of their "moves" are so commonly used, is it really so Randa/Dina/whoever anymore, and does it then become part of the evolution of the dance form?

Hmmm....

Discuss!

:)
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
One can copyright a choreography or a painting; one cannot copyright a movement or a color. That being said, some movements are popularly associated with certain dancers: Samia Gamal's flirty little shoulder bump comes immmediately to mind.
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
A dancer can own a whole choreography but to me, not a move. If that was the case, then I would be quite guilty of stealing a lot of combos. I think quite a lot of dancers "steal" moves, but moreso I would describe it as imitation is the best form of flattery.
 

Gia al Qamar

New member
I think it's a case of 'how she said it', not 'what she said'...in other words...if someone compliments you and says that you remind them of a certain dancer, that's fine...but if that person says that your dance reminded them of someone's routine, you haven't made it you own...there are signature 'moves' that one can point to that help to define a certain dancer's style...but to say that anyone 'owns' a move...nahhhh.
 

Belly Love

New member
I think for the most part, your being inspired by. Although, when you do notice that there is too much similarity in one specific dance, it's time to purposely change something.

At this point in time (unless it's an uncommon fusion style dance) almost every move done has been already done by someone else.

There is always someone your going to resemble, whether it's teachers, fellow dancers, etc. For someone to say, "That's so so-and-so" that just means the line of teaching you've been taught has decended from a partcular way someone moves (not a bad thing) and/or the way you move just happens to be similar. With all of the thousands of belly dancers out there, everyone is going to resemble someone.
 

Chani

New member
I get a bit confused about this too because by nature I am not particularly original but I am an excellent copy cat. I sew for a living and one of my main jobs used to be copying garments that customers brought in. I quite often find a garment that I love in a photo or store and copy it for myself and to offset costs make a few extra to sell out of the pattern I've created. This is legal because you can't copyright fashion, however, when it comes to toys which I also make you can't copy the same way - so while I can be inspired by another's creations I musn't copy outright.

Somebody explained it like this which helped me get my head around it and it might be transferrable to choreography - it's not about what you change about the creation but what you leave in that counts - if the part you have left the same is the essence of the creation, is what makes it unique, then you are ripping off the original creator.

So I suppose if you like some moves you see in a Chorie and incorporate them into your own original chorie that would be fine but if you take a whole set of moves that are crutial to that chorie and directly replicate that set of moves even if you change the rest it might be stealing.
 

Caroline_afifi

New member
Hi Eshta,

Any artist or performer in the public domain knows/hopes as soon as material is out there, it will inspire someone.

If something is deliberately aimed at looking just like that person, then this is not right... you cannot be them or ride on the back of that person.

People should try and understand their own style. We all have one, it just takes time to realise that.
We can never make that realisation by looking like the poor relation of Dina and Randa.

I dont think the fact that you are simply inspired by someone is a problem, we are all inspired by someone.

As for music, we do not own music unless we had it created for us.. we really cannot get hung up over 'someones used my music'.. it is there for people to listen to, enjoy and use if they wish too.
The only downside is if someone did a fanatstic job of that music and yours in not as good, people will remerber the other person and forever associate that music with them.
 

Yame

New member
People should try and understand their own style. We all have one, it just takes time to realise that.
We can never make that realisation by looking like the poor relation of Dina and Randa.
Speaking of Dina and Randa, this reminds me of something that needs to be said. To some people, it doesn't matter how unique you actually are, if there is a slight semblance to another dancer they will say you are "copying."

Not long ago, in every youtube video I saw of Randa, there were hateful comments where people complained she was just a cheap copy of Dina.

I can see some "Dina-isms" in Randa, but the two dancers are so, so different. And Randa is such a unique dancer, you'd think she'd be one of the last dancers to get this kind of criticism.

So, feel free to feel inspired by whomever you'd like. You will NEVER please everyone, so make sure what you are doing feels ethical to you, make sure you are not purposely copying, don't steal choreographies, and if YOU feel your dance looks too similar to another dancer's even if it's not on purpose, find other inspirations to offset this effect. If you consider those things, you'll be all good.
 

Amulya

Moderator
I never understand why a dancer would copy a whole choreography, even if he/she mentions that the choreography is from someone else. It is just really odd.
I don't think it's wrong if someone is inspired by another dancer, isn't that a compliment to the dancer who has been the inspiration? But still, even if you would use a combination from another dancer, it would look different because you have it incorporated into another choreography, have another costume, maybe even a whole different dancing style so the combo might even look entirely different.
 
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Eshta

New member
Lol, just to update: I'm confident I have been 'inspired by' rather than 'stolen from', but I thought it would be an interesting point to discuss - where is the fine line between the two? Is it even that 'fine' a line?

I agree, my style is very different so even the bits that are in principle similar, in reality don't look similar at all. Think I lack the grace and elegance, hahaha!

Hahaha, maybe I'll put my video up after I've performed it (tomorrow night), see if you can work out my current muse :lol:!
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
If a whole choreography from someone else is used, make sure to get full permission in writing and give complete credit. Sometimes a whole choreography is used because a person might want to see how their own dancing is coming along while in training.

And Yame is right - I would never confuse Randa with Dina, ever!
 

Daimona

Moderator
I'm not sure there even is a thin line, but if it exists it is probably rather fuzzy...

We've had a couple of previous threads related to this topic:

To sum it up:
  • Reusing some some moves or combinations: Inspired from, whether is is slightly altered or not. This is quite normal as nobody owns a move or combination, and something all dancers do. Unless it is a very well known signature move or the whole performance have a flavour of one specific dancer, no credit should be necessary if it is just tiny parts of the choregraphy.
  • Reusing larger parts: Inspired from or copying. In my opinion it is highly recommended to credit or refer to the original. BUT sometimes this may happen by coincidence if somebody is interpreting the music the same way. I would guess this would happen very rare, but from time to somebody forms the same sentences and maybe even a paragraph because they are using the same words to bring out a similar message from the music. Although, the more words, the less chance of ending up with the same result - statistically speaking.
  • Using all/most of the same movements in similar combinations: Unless one dancer have learnt the choreography from another and are using it with or without permission and without crediting the originator presenting it as their own, this is copying/plagiarism/stealing. Statistically, I would say it is very rare you'll end up with a similar result for the whole song. I'm not saying it is impossible, but the chance of doing is is probably less than the chance of winning the grand prize in the national lottery.

If you are worried that you are 'stealing' parts from someone, you're probably also aware of what needs to be done. If you discover too many similarities you can either change your choreography to make it look less like the other dancer's choreography or credit the first dancer for moves/inspiration etc and of course then claim your innocence. ;)
 

Darshiva

Moderator
I never understand why a dancer would copy a whole choreography, even if he/she mentions that the choreography is from someone else. It is just really odd.
I don't think it's wrong if someone is inspired by another dancer, isn't that a compliment to the dancer who has been the inspiration? But still, even if you would use a combination from another dancer, it would look different because you have it incorporated into another choreography, have another costume, maybe even a whole different dancing style so the combo might even look entirely different.

Does that include using a choreography you've learned from another dancer? I've recently performed someone else's choreography. For me it's about accomplishment. It takes a lot of hard work to make something someone else has created work for you.

Of course, if you're talking about something someone has seen & copied & is using even with credit, I can understand. But as a teacher I am rather flattered when people use my choreographies after I've taught it to them, and the lady who's choreo I used last Friday feels the same way or I'd not have had permission to use it.
 

Aziyade

New member
Does that include using a choreography you've learned from another dancer? I've recently performed someone else's choreography. For me it's about accomplishment. It takes a lot of hard work to make something someone else has created work for you.

Of course, if you're talking about something someone has seen & copied & is using even with credit, I can understand. But as a teacher I am rather flattered when people use my choreographies after I've taught it to them, and the lady who's choreo I used last Friday feels the same way or I'd not have had permission to use it.

I've spent some time studying particular dancers that I enjoy, learning as many of their performance choreographies as I can (or as well as I can interpret) because I think it helps you understand the way that dancer hears the music. I LOVE Jillina's Ana Fi Intezarek performance on her drum solo dvd, so I learned it. I would not perform that for other dancers, but it is something I enjoy practicing at home.
 

Shakti

New member
At all of the seminars I have attended, all of the instructors have said feel free to use this choreography or make it your own by changing what will work for you. I would assume that would go for any choreo on an instructional DVD. They also said that if their work truly inspired your dance, or if you perform their choreography giving a reference to them is much appreciated and professional. It may be impossible at a restaurnt gig or a bellygram, but announcing it in an intro or through a voice over has worked out great for other venues.

I study Bharatnatyam and several of our choreograhies are hundreds of years old. My teacher says that few bharatnatyam dancers ever perform their own choreo. Though bellydance is a different genre all together, I do not think it is uncreative to perform someone elses choreo if you really love it. Not every dancer is a choreographer both are distict art forms. One of the most popular Bollywood choreographers, Saroj Khan was never a professional dance performer, but if you watch the movie devdas , for instance, knowing saroj did the choreography you cannot help but see her essence in all of the performers of this modern classic.

It took me a long time to learn to choreograph bellydances. I prefer improv with my favorite combos.Helps me sieze the moment.
 

Shara

New member
One cannot steal a move.... it does not belong to anyone..... one cannot steal a combination.... the moves do not belong to anyone and stringing together moves equals dance..... no one owns dance. A choreography can be stolen, and if a certain percentage of a choreo is used, especially to the same piece of music, it may be perceived as stolen.
 
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