Credit where credit is due.
If it weren’t for our teachers, the ones who give themselves and their wisdom to us, where would we be? It’s absolutely essential that we honor and thank our teachers (even the not-so great ones, which I’m lucky to have avoided, for we can certainly learn from them, too). It pains me to see dancers blatantly use movements and techniques from master instructors and never even give credit or a tip of the proverbial hat.
On one hand, we strive to be unique, to be individual. If we hide our sources, we implicitly claim that, somehow, we created movements and techniques out of thin air. Such an approach to dance feeds the beast of the Ego. The Ego wants to impress others, make us feel important, and it loves external praise and attention. It is a great feeling for the Ego to say, “I came up with this idea all by myself,” even if it isn’t entirely true. But really, when we conceal our inspirations and the knowledge that our teachers have imparted upon us, we do them a great disservice. We also do ourselves a great disservice. By feeding the Ego in this way, not only are we lying to those around us about how creative and awesome we are, but also we are lying to ourselves. It is, in a sense, artistic plagiarism. Academic writers are required to cite their sources, so, when we teach, why shouldn’t we do the same? I don’t mean that we have to explain every little thing that we do, but a little mention of who inspired a movement or combination is, at the very least, good Karma and starves the Ego of self-aggrandizing nutrients.
Another way to think about it is that at the end of the day, we are individuals (how twee, yes? It makes me think of this scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian). We are the product of our own distinct experiences in this dance and in our own lives. Even if we study with the same instructors day-in and day-out, how we dance and how we teach that information will be different. My interpretation of a movement or combination will likely be different from yours, but that doesn’t meant that we came up with that movement in some sort of creative vacuum.
It is true what Issac Newton said: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Give the giants (and the non-giants) some credit. They’re holding up the rest of us.