Anonymous Story 20

“I worked for a ballet company where the directors promote themselves as “choreographer-producers”, and their company performs “all original work”.

They do create some of their own choreography, yet multiple times a week we were given YouTube videos and DVDs of other people’s choreography to learn (in some cases very famous choreographers).

We would learn choreography in one studio, then bring it to the main studio so the Artistic Director could change it slightly, or in some cases just space it differently. It felt so wrong to be part of the plagiarism process. Yet it seemed as though the company got away with this for so long because the “locals wouldn’t know”.

In 2019, two principals danced an entire pas de deux choreographed by a famous choreographer (set to different music), and the company documented it as their choreography in the promos and program. It was embarrassing. When confronted with this months later, the company said that they had paid permission from the choreographer’s foundation to perform it. But no one from the foundation came to work with us during the rehearsal to set the piece on the dancers/company. It was swept under the rug.

When you’re “just a dancer”, it’s scary to confront leadership about ethics surrounding stealing other people’s ideas and work. None of us want to lose our performance opportunities or our contracts. I’m grateful for platforms like this that allow us to share our frustrations and regrets and experiences.

I now work with a company that works to uplift our own movements & dance styles. Seek your own path and don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right.”


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