Note: The views of this article does not necessarily
reflect those of SalsaNewYork.com, SalsaNewYork.com/Magazine.
Last issue SalsaNewYork Magazine
published an article by UK Dancer Leon Rose entitled Piracy!
Plagiarism: Copycats. SalsaNewYork reader Joe Wieder who has in the past
contributed several articles to our site, felt the need to state his thoughts
on the subject matter.
By Joe Wieder
More like hissy fit!
I read the article by the English salsa dancer and instructor Leon Rose
regarding his concerns about people who go around copying his steps and fail
to credit him for them. I appreciate his concern as a teacher, but
I don't share his indignation in feeling "ripped off."
I know a lot of people here who have very strong views on the matter as well,
especially when they feel that it's their own original creativity that's being
copied and they're not being given the credit and/or the compensation they
feel they deserve.
Personally, I feel imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My own
dancing is an amalgam of combinations I've put together from watching people
dance, steps from other dances, and steps I've made up along the way that have
worked (many don't). I actually enjoy watching people watching me
intently and then trying out my routines.
At clubs here in NY, I watch as "new and original" steps are
created, and smile knowingly to myself that the teachers who
"created" them have in fact "borrowed" them from other
dances - notably West Coast Swing, Hustle, Tango, and even Country Western Two
Step. These teachers have obviously seen these steps and routines done
elsewhere and figured they could use them in salsa - since salsa dancers are
largely unaware of anything outside of the salsa world. Soon these
"new" steps are copied by others and begin appearing everywhere -
the dancers blissfully ignorant that they are in fact doing west coast swing,
hustle, etc. to a salsa beat.
On the other hand, dance is not a science (unless you're a ballroom dancer),
but rather an evolving art form and an expression of self. The neat thing of
it is that even if you copy a step or a routine, the execution of it reflects
your own self. And in that area, we are all at least a bit different. And so,
it will keep evolving, a bruised ego or two notwithstanding.
That said, indignant teachers such as Mr. Rose might as well get used to it -
people will imitate you if you're good and you've got something different.
He should use that as an incentive to get even better and more creative.
What it comes down to, I think, is a matter of some dancers taking
themselves too seriously. They aren't creating epic novels, or
Beethoven's Fifth. It's just dancing!
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