We live in a world of Instagram, YouTube and facebook and you know what they say, “if it’s not on the gram, it didn’t happen”. Social media dominate our lives and outlets like Instagram are on the forefront of the circus community. Social media networking has so many great advantages. It is amazing to be able to connect with circus folks from all around the world, share knowledge and stay motivated, especially if you training by yourself in your little corner of the world. I have found the community to be amazing and supportive and there is a wealth of knowledge in regards to injury prevention and safety in aerial arts. However, it doesn’t come without problems – in particular plagiarism and safety.
But let’s start by discussing safety. Let me put it plain and simple: it is NOT safe to copy a move you saw on a social media platform. And most of you are probably thinking that you have done it before and you were fine. That might be true but that doesn’t mean that it will be fine next time. If you copy a move of Instagram or Youtube, there is no description of the things you don’t know that you should know. Sounds confusing but consider the last time you have learned a new drop in class. Many drops are taught as a progression, you might start by doing a half drop or getting the position right before you the whole thing so you know what to expect and what muscles to engage. You also have someone there checking your wraps or positions and tell you what to do (or not to do). Those things are important. For some tricks it might be okay, but others might not. You never know how difficult a trick really is, what you need to look out for, or how long someone has worked to perfect a move before posting it on social media.
Now to the issue of plagiarism. As circus artists, our body is our canvas and copying someone else’s moves is plagiarism and not okay. We all get inspired by other artists and that is fine (but if you do, make sure you give them credit and engage with the artist before posting your moves). Copying, however, is an entirely different story. In short: don’t do it. New transition, new tricks, or new shapes are very hard to create. It can take weeks or months to work these out and it’s frustrating of you see someone just ‘steal’ your work. And imagine what you can add to the community by creating your own work. Yes it is hard, yes it takes time and effort but it is also incredibly rewarding. I believe that everyone is capable of creating something new and interesting. Work to your strength, take your 3 favourite tricks and find a different entrances/exits and a new way to link them. It will be fun and rewarding once you get there and might give you a new appreciation for the creative process along the way.
So, stay safe and have fun creating.