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Dear dancer: “Inspiration as a rationalization tool for theft is not cool”

Are urban dancers of 2019 less creative than the originators in the 80s? Did our community start blindly accepting plagiarism while hiding it behind the seemingly safe statement of “I got inspired”? In the second article of the “Dear dancer” series, Andrey Drosha – Artistic leader of EMOVES, dance innovator and creative professional explains how developing strong artistic integrity empowers you to be more you.

I personally think that we are living in the least creative era in the history of Urban Dance Styles! Or in other words, dancers should be developing a good sense of artistic identity!

I can’t help it, maybe it’s my visual bubble, maybe it’s me and my skewed view of the world, but my god I am drowning in a sea of stylistic boredom and I need help, somebody throws me a line! Where is that good old hip hop anti biting police force? The good old discussion of biting has become an issue of “old men” so I hope that 38 makes me old enough to nag. Hip hop is all about unity and having fun and each one teach one, but the same terms are also a façade to ignore the pain of plagiarism. Dance and plagiarism is a loveless marriage. The artists that are being copied do well if they openly accept the theft and empower it, because if they don’t they will often be considered naggers, negative and so on. I have spoken with quite a few artists that are trapped between the pain of being copied ( plagiarism) and the need to have positive publicity ( pretend they don’t mind).  Dance and plagiarism could also be called a marriage of originators and copycats.
Our extremely individualized subculture of sensitive ego’s appropriates other’s material as a birthright. Usually, the copiers are silent and use “being inspired” is a free pass from due diligence of research, creative exploration and working on their own style.

Fresh moves is like a free candy I see, I want, I take, I eat. And like that some people’s creative juice becomes a free commodity, a consumer product.

Inspiration as a rationalization tool for theft is not cool. It is mostly the absence of artistic integrity!
As an urban dancer and artist, it is your duty to be creative! Adjust, adapt and change. If you want to be an artist raise your standards even higher. Everybody can learn to be creative, not everyone is an artist.  The wiggle walk was not given to you by the universe it was given to mr. Wiggles decades ago. You see for true artists dancing is life and a part of their identity.

What people often don’t realize is that some choreographers and freestylers are actually stealing people’s identity, not only moves. That’s why it hurts when somebody copies you in the first place.

There are laws against plagiarism for a reason, they protect someone’s “intellectual ownership” it gives a creative person the right to earn decent money with their idea. But it is not only business-related but fundamentally humanistic as well. A masterwork takes a lifetime to achieve and only some time to copy. In order to make sure you honor someone’s identity and to be a better artist, you should develop that strong sense of artistic identity and here is my breakdown of it. 

Inspiration is the biggest motivation to create. But acknowledge first that you are inspired and about to use someone’s material for yourself. Realize it is not yours. An artist shed their light on you and touched you that’s great, honor it. Give it credit first.
Once you start learning the step, concept or choreography compare it to the original source, if it looks the same, you are not there yet. Keep changing. Changing and flipping is your primary tool. Every basic, every concept should go through changing and flipping process. Compare it to the original source if it still looks the same back to the lab. If you don’t know whether you look the same, seek out your peers. Show your material, if your peers have the right mind state, they will call you out and call your bite. See it as a stimulating feedback a motivation to work on it more until it becomes yours. When you get to teach this evolved material you will credit the original artist as the source of inspiration and show his work to your students. Once you have taught them what you need you will call them out to evolve even further.        

Artistic integrity empowers you to be more you. There is nothing more beautiful for a dancer to have a bright artistic identity, to inspire others is a true blessing. Most Urban Dance artists are down to earth people willing to share, willing to teach what they know. It means that you can actually approach Mr. Wiggles and give him respect and credit for the wiggle walk take over the torch and continue the heritage. It is an essential part of the process of becoming your true self.