Monday, July 24, 2006

Choreography is Intellectual Property...

But who owns it?
This battle is being played out by Pilobolus, as the New York Times reports here. A Snip:
Ms. Chase said that she was cast out by a new, corporate-minded executive director and board after three decades of service, and was denied ownership of the dances she created. “It was artistic differences and sort of a mean-spirited power grab by the board,” Ms. Chase added.

The companyÂ’s management sees it differently. The executive director, Itamar Kubovy, said Ms. Chase was demanding to do larger-scale works that the company could not afford. She was offered access to her dances and a contract to stay on but declined, he said, and she was voted off the board after she suggested that she wanted to start a potentially rival company. (Ms. Chase denies wanting to start a new company.)

In this example,collaborativeive choreographer admits that she gave her dances to the company, but seemingly only while she was a member in good standing. Should she have asserted rights overcollaborativeive company formed in an artistically collective environment? Who owns the intellectual property undercollaborationion? The article gives two examples of power-house choreographers: Martha Graham left all her dances to the Martha Graham company, and George Balanchine left all his dances to the Balanchine trust. But what kind of intellectual property rights exist for small choreographers? In a business where dancers and choreographers are happy enough to get a little cash for their work, how are we protecting this ephemeral artform?

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