What is a responsible artist?
A responsible artist has many meanings, it means to be true to your work, to be kind and courtesy to other artists, and above all it means to respect all art whether it be your own or someone else’s. Now and days you see artists being irresponsible left and right and it’s just unacceptable.
There’s a difference between being inspired by a work of art and straight up stealing it.“You can be inspired by choreographers from Merce Cunningham to de Keersmaeker,” says Kitty Daniels, chair of Cornish College of the Arts’ dance department. “But to duplicate their movement phrases exactly is a violation of intellectual property rights.” (http://www.dancespirit.com/how-to/choreography-how-to/the-plagiarism-problem/) Most recently a great example of an irresponsible artist stealing art in it’s most physical form is the infamous Beyonce Knowles incident. In the music video for her record breaking song “Countdown” she copied huge chunks of choreography from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s two most renowned works, Rosas danst Rosas (1983) and Achterland (1990). Instead of maybe taking this opportunity to put modern dance on the map and have a wonderful chance for a beautiful collaboration she essentially just stole these two pieces from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Beyonce claims to have been unaware that the choreography she was learning was in fact stolen. If that is truly the case then the blame falls on Beyonce’s choreographer, Frank Gatson Jr. It’s one thing for a pop artist to steal choreography but it’s a totally different thing for a fellow dancer to take choreography so blatantly. This wasn’t the first time Beyonce plagiarized art either. On her one of her tours she performs similar steps to Alvin Ailey’s Wade In The Water. The dancers are even wearing similar outfits and are using similar props. Coincidence? I think not.
For me, as a young artist things like this make me question my own artistry and responsibility. I find myself drawing inspiration from almost everything in my life when it comes to making movement, especially other dancers. So that forces me to question my responsibilities to those I draw inspiration from. Basically when it comes down to it I think that if the your movement and the movement you’re getting inspiration from are the exact same, there is a problem. Now you can give the artist your recognition and obviously if it’s literally one gesture and you got permission it’s less of a problem but when it’s step for step, or even taking someone’s ideas, then it makes for a more controversial situation. I also don’t understand why you would even want to put someone else’s work versus your own on a stage. I guess I just have too big of a conscience to feel proud of something that isn’t even my own.
With all that said I think it is extremely important to be a responsible artist and to stay true to your fellow artists, it’s hard enough as it is. We have to build each other up not break each other down.