What would Balanchine have thought of a YouTube presence?
To continue Paul Parish's incredibly smart discussion of why we--potential live-dance audiences, actual live-dance audiences, committed dance enthusiasts, dance scholars--all need video libraries like the Ketinoa collection on YouTube, here are two useful sources I dug up:
--Novelist Jonathan Lethem's fantastic 2007 Harper's article, "The Ecstasy of Influence," on how artmaking necessarily involves borrowing, in which he reminds us:
The first Congress to grant copyright gave authors an initial term of fourteen years, which could be renewed for another fourteen if the author still lived. The current term is the life of the author plus seventy years. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that each time Mickey Mouse is about to fall into the public domain, the mouse's copyright term is extended.
Perhaps even more to the point, he explains that the reason a film can "borrow" scenes from real life without being accused of plagiarism is the camera itself is enough to make them new. Why wouldn't that apply as well to dance on film? Balanchine certainly understood the distinction, as he made clear in the revisions to his ballets he created for film.
--For those of you wondering how Balanchine might have responded to a YouTube presence, Arlene Croce's January New Yorker article (in full for subscribers) on how most of the wise nuggets of Balanchine's were actually other people's, which he adapted, goes on to point out that this principle applied to his choreography as well.
He subscribed to the Hegelian view of history as a spiral: everything recurs, but in a different form. For this reason, he saw no harm in appropriating: he stole and was stolen from--that was the way of art.
How ironic that Balanchine's presence in the Ketinoa collection caused its demise.
NEW: For a legal perspective on why it might be necessary for the Balanchine Trust and other organizations of its size and stature to play policeman, here's info I gleaned from a Tendu TV exec.
And, again, for Paul's original letter, go here.
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