[Callers] Norms/Ethics of Dance Choreography Sharing

Don Veino sharedweight_net at veino.com
Fri Sep 13 10:16:42 PDT 2013

I'm interested in others' perspectives on this topic integral to our
passion. I've had a few very brief interactions with other callers on this
topic but would appreciate a wider view with an eye towards commonly agreed
acceptable practice. We live in a world that has the dichotomy of very
strong legal concepts of "ownership" and yet at the same time the dance
community carries on a more open heredity of sharing and the folk process
in order to benefit us all.

As I became interested in calling, I started to do a fair amount of capture
from live calling with occasional "asks" to the caller for
clarification/confirmation of my capture (at a convenient point in the
program for them). Often they would just hand me their card. In one case an
established caller offered a stack of "easy" dances to a group of us at a
shared caller night which was very helpful to gain some known entities.
Nowadays if a caller offers their card I usually simply take a photo of it
with my cell phone to respect their time and transcribe from that later.

Lately I've been doing a couple of other things to capture dances: gaining
clarification from YouTube videos for trickier choreography I've seen live
or leveraging positive mentions of dance names on lists like this to
trigger a YouTube search for original capture.

If folks ask me to look at a card when I'm calling I'll gladly share it.
However, I'm a bit uneasy when they ask for more than a couple and from my
experience on the other side it appears others around me feel similarly. (I
once had the unusual experience of a caller unknown to me asking for one
card which I handed over and then came back from socializing during the
break to find her rifling through and copying from my card deck on stage -
seemed to think that was perfectly normal behavior!)

I've not posted another composer's work (with the exception of one dance
commissioned for my daughter) as I feel this is crossing the line. However,
I have noted several collections of dances posted on the web by folks other
than the authors - in some cases they assert they have permission to do so
and others are mum. I have copied from several of these in the past but now
steer away from "no permission expressed" ones.

So I've kinda boiled this down to a tentative personal code of sharing:

   - OK to gather from primary sources on my own work (live dance, YouTube
   videos, etc.)
   - OK to gather first hand from another caller's offered card or follow
   up message, whether their own work or of another composer
   - OK to gather from web publication or books expressing permission, or
   posted by the author
   - Before copyright works/chestnuts open game and OK
   - OK to offer my own compositions as I like in any form
   - OK to share others' compositions in a one-on-one on request fashion
   - Not cool to hoover up another caller's deck in big gulps (at least at
   an event or without offer) or to be expected to give likewise
   - Grey area: sharing another's composition in response to a request on a
   list post (as opposed to an off-list one-on-one email, or a link to an
   existing acceptable on-line resource)
   - No Way: publishing a list of other's compositions, without the
   expressed permission of the author, in any form.

I freely offer that some of the distinctions may or may not make sense to
others, but feels right to me in this environment. The grey area one above
would probably be stifling to several of the choreography review and
criticism threads which are otherwise very helpful were it made "not OK."

I'd love to hear what others think!

More information about the Callers mailing list