Performing a DVD choreography

JennaJoy

New member
I have recently been asked whether performing a piece from a bellydance DVD is wrong. I said, "most likely", but I wanted to out it out there for discussion. Technically, the piece is on a public forum, so the DVD instructor cannot expect someone to never perform it. Lets discuss? ;)
 

mahsati_janan

New member
This will depend on the dvd and the instructor. If the dvd is instructional, then they may have permission to perform it. In my case, students are welcome to perform what they have learned on my dvds, but must give choreography credit. However, as with all of my students, they are not authorized to teach the choreographies to others without my permission (though they can all learn it from the dvd).

In any case, if someone wishes to perform a choreography they learned from an instructional dvd and isn't sure about whether this included permission for public performance, it is a good idea to ask the instructor. Generally, I would say that most choreographies taught on instructional dvds are ok to perform as long as full credit is given.

Now, this is all different if it is a perfomance dvd. It is generally considered unethical to copy another performer's choreography from a non-instructional dvd. There may be special circumstances, but I would recommend not using performance choreographies not taught on the dvd without first obtaining permission.
 

Kashmir

New member
If the DVD is there to teach the choreography and you have actually bought the DVD (as opposed to watching it on YouTube or borrowing it). I think it is fair enough to perform it - giving credit to the choreographer. (However, I do know of cases where the teacher uses a choreography to teach aspects of the dance and either wants you to not perform it or run it past them first)

If it is a performance DVD then, no, it is not fair game. And by being "out there" it is effectively recorded as copyrighted to the dancer.
 

JennaJoy

New member
This particular DVD is from an internationally known performer and is easily obtained on her website, so, it is safe to say, 100 people could already be performing it. I just really wanted to have an open chat about it and get other opinions before I can flat out tell my friend yea or no. It is a Store-sold DVD and not one from a hometown instructor.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
IMO, if the choreo is actually taught on the DVD, it's okay to perform it as long as you give the creator credit. If it's a choreo that isn't taught on the DVD, then no.

Oo; Wow, I'm a slow typer!

Just read the OP's response. If it's a performance DVD, it does not matter if a person bought it and owns it, that person may NOT perform that choreo without special permission. It's like this: someone may have bought the entire Twilight collection of books. That person may own physical copies of the books, BUT HE/SHE DOES NOT OWN THE COPYRIGHT. He/she did NOT write the books, therefore, he/she is not the author.

A dancer may own a performance DVD, but he/she did NOT perform on that DVD, and did NOT create that choreography. Said dancer does NOT own the copyright. Therefore, said dancer does not have permission to perform that choreo or ANY choreo on that DVD. Copying without permission is stealing, and stealing is WRONG. It doesn't matter if a billion people are doing it---IT IS WRONG.
 
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JennaJoy

New member
I did, also, tell her to email the DVD instructor asking for performance permission. I doubt there will be a response as this is a well known, "famous", Performer and workshop instructor.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
You need to explain to her that it doesn't matter how famous or well-known the performer is, her performance is still her intellectual property, and your friend cannot perform the choreo without the performer's express permission.

I deal with this problem at my job when customers bring in professionally-done studio photos to copy at the photo kiosks. They think that since they bought the photos, they can make as many copies as they want without realizing (or caring) that they do not own the copyright. Same problem with kids who download anime or watch it online on an illegal pirate website. Until everyone realizes that such activities are wrong, the problem will continue.
 
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gisela

Super Moderator
I did, also, tell her to email the DVD instructor asking for performance permission. I doubt there will be a response as this is a well known, "famous", Performer and workshop instructor.
You never know, very few people ask permission, so it might actually be a welcome question for the instructor. Most of the famous star dancers I've met are incredibly down to earth and pleasant.

Personnally, I feel that, yes, it's ok to perform a dance from a choreography dvd as it's purpose is to teach you a choreography. I would even be alright with performing a dance from a performance dvd or youtube PROVIDED that it's at a low key Hafla or family gathering as in, somewhere where you are dancing to try stuff out or practice your performance skills. NOT somewhere where you market yourself as a pro dancer or get paid. And of course, always give credit to the choreographer.
 

gisela

Super Moderator
I could paint copies of all Van Gogh's work provided it is for personal practice and not for sale or public exhibition, right?
 

mahsati_janan

New member
I could paint copies of all Van Gogh's work provided it is for personal practice and not for sale or public exhibition, right?
This depends on whether the work is under copyright, how it is created/displayed, etc. There is a lot to consider when you are using another artist's intellectual property. Personally, respecting someone's intellectual property means that you do not use their choreography without permission. There are legal ways to use items under fair use, but public performance of another person's work would not usually be included. As an example, community theater groups must pay for the rights to perform a play, even if all of the actors have watched the movie and learned the words scene by scene. Without the permission to perform it, it likely would be a violation of the copyright of the artist.

Edited to add: this is an interesting paper on choreography and copyright: http://www.kentlaw.edu/perritt/courses/seminar/papers 2009 fall/joy mkrdichian final Copyright_and_Choreography_Paper Work.pdf
 
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Farasha Hanem

New member
Then there's the question, if a dancer is a stage-level performer, WHY copy someone else's work (permission or no)? Why not come up with one's own choreography instead?

EDIT: Just remembered something my grandmother used to teach me: if you have to ask if something is wrong, it probably is.
 
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JennaJoy

New member
Whoa, I never said she was performing for anything stage level. It was a piece that she enjoys dancing to at home and wanted to try at a hafla. I told her all the thoughts from this topic and she is not going to do it. She is, in no way, a stage performer. She finds choreography difficult, but I offered to assist in her choreography planning. She is not comfortable enough with improv to do that either. Ill help her sort it out.
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
I wish I'd known that in the first place, that was never explained in the beginning. Knowing the circumstances would have been helpful. In that case, I would suggest her learning a choreo that's at her level, something simple and short so that she doesn't panic, because even a low-key hafla can unnerve a person.
 

Jane

New member
Strangely, copyright varies from country to country. I just posted about this in another thread. Here's the link:
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States

An instructional video choreography in the US would probably fall under fair use IF the person is not making money off of it, i.e. teaching the choreography or performing it for money. If the dancer is recorded dancing another person's choreography, and the video is then sold to other dancers or the public, then that will likely violate the choreographer's copyright too. Best legal bet is to either ask written permission of the copyright holder or only do your own choreography in public. Don't even get me going on music copyright. Wind me up and put in a quarter!

I would recommend NEVER performing someone's choreography because:
A. Everyone will know
B. Everyone has seen it before
C. It's not YOU
D. It's uncreative
E. Everyone will compare you to the original dancer in the video
F. It's a legal mess
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
When you're in the beginning stages of the bellydance journey, it can be hard to improv or come up with your own choreography. It's harder for some than it is for others, and it sounds like your friend falls in that category. To get used to improving, she can put some ME music on at home, and practice the moves she knows, and try on ones that she's learning. She can even take her favorite moves from various performances and practice them. Just so long as she doesn't perform someone else's choreo by wrote with the exact same music. Once she gets used to practicing and just having FUN, improv will start becoming natural to her. :)

I apologize if I came on a bit too strong. From one of your posts, it sounded like your friend wasn't listening to anyone, not even you, so I was only trying to help you emphasize to her that copying someone else's performance could possibly get her in a lot of legal trouble. As I mention, I have to deal with customers on a regular basis that our store cannot allow them to copy a photographer's photos without signing a copyright release, and since I'm a person with an OCD sense of right and wrong, I can come on a bit strong. I do wish you and your friend all the best, and hope that her hafla goes well. :)
 
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Aziyade

New member
Jenna, most instructors who produce instructional choreography videos INTEND for the students to learn the choreos and dance them (albeit, it's considered polite to at least credit that instructor for the choreo). It's always a polite idea to request permission, but it's widely accepted that when you sell your choreography on dvd, you will eventually see other dancers performing it. :)


But I want to address something -- using someone else's choreography is not unusual in bellydance, nor is it something that just beginners do. Nagwa Fouad was almost entirely choreographed, and many of the big-name dancers over the years have hired choreographers. Competition dancers also routinely hire choreographers.

Not all dancers are also choreographers (and the reverse is also true.) The only real problem with using a choreography from a dvd is that your audience may have already seen it (or know it!) lol!
 

JennaJoy

New member
Ladies,

Your responses are all extremely appreciated, but in my haste and excitement to hear other opinions, I left out massive details.

I have been dancing for about 7 years and, my friend, 3. I definitely know my own right and wrong, but I do not make those decisions for others. I feel very confident about my response to my friend and merely posted on here to discover what the opinions of other dancers would bring to light.

I would never encourage "theft of choreography". I thought it may be interesting to glean perspective from many seasons of performers and instructors.

Aziyade, we actually live in the same state, I believe. And, if I may say, I think you are a divine performer! I truly enjoy watching you at ISAMETD events. I even tried to drop into a class of yours during some of my travels, but our timing did not work out. I will definitely try again!

I hope this sheds a shred of light on where the topic came from. She will not be performing the other choreography, for now, but if she decides to at a later date, she will credit the other performer.

Thank you, again, for your knowledge, ladies! I look forward to exploring the forums more.

-JJ :dance:
 

da Sage

New member
I think that generally it's OK to perform any choreography that you paid to learn in class or from an instructional DVD in a forum where you are not getting paid or representing yourself as a professional dancer. When I performed my teacher's choreography at a party, I let her know first. But honestly...I don't think I needed to. Nor did I feel the need to have "performance by da Sage, choreography by SuperTeacher" announced. For one thing, I made several unplanned revisions to the choreography while performing it.;) For another thing, I expect that anyone attending who gave a rat's patootie either recognized the choreography or spoke to me afterwards (when I gave full credit).

Now, I'm not running all over town booking pro gigs with someone else's choreographies. In our community, everyone seems to be on the same page re: performance of class choreographies in non-professional situations. Haflas and recitals are great opportunities to perform a learned choreography (and it's usually easy and appropriate to give choreographer credit in those venues).

I'm a big believer in both tribute performances and in learning from others' choreographies. I'd actually like to copy and perform some DVD performances and You-tube performances, if I ever have time. I think that *performing* a choreography (rather than simply practicing it at home) may give me additional insight into the piece.

I enjoy seeing multiple versions of the same choreography on YouTube and in local shows. I eventually even saw a version of Dark Veil that I loved (I generally despise that particular piece of choreography). Seeing different takes on a choreography, and thinking about what I like and don't like, helps me grow.

Legality is tricky. I might step slightly on the wrong side of copyright law, but I'm more concerned with not stepping on anyone's toes. Unless you're dealing with the artist again known as Prince, I think that's a pretty safe bet.:)
 

Safran

New member
We just recently had the discussion about choreography rights in the Estonian bellydance newsletter and consequently on Facebook. Although it was more focused on choreographies learned in workshops. We came to a conclusion that to avoid misuse of choreographies and disappointment from unmet expectations, the choreographer and event organiser should make it clear from the beginning what the participants of the workshop are allowed to do afterwards (perform the choreography, teach it etc.)

I guess it would make sense to add this information to the choreography DVDs as well. However, as this does not seem to be common practice, it makes sense to ask the choreographer, just to be sure.
 

Aziyade

New member
Jenna, I just saw your most recent post and you are so sweet!!!! Thank you so much! That made my day!!! We should definitely meet in person -- maybe the next ISAMETD show?

:) Thank you :)
-Amanda
 
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