Difference between creative inspiration and plagiarism in Faribault dance team's win

The Minnesota State High School League dance competition rules were set in 1997. That was before YouTube. Faribault won the state kick championship despite allegations of stealing choreography, and a dance journalist and longtime coach shares why a protest by the runners-up gives the league a chance to make a clear distinction between creative inspiration and plagiarism.

Erin Kruesi, founder of Minnesota High School Dance Team Online, says the unified protest by the Class 3A high kick dancers from Wayzata, Eastview, Eden Prairie, Chaska and Lakeville South schools is nothing like anything she's seen at any state championship.

"This should've been a beautiful positive moment, but when you do this at the exclusion of someone else, no matter what their crime may or may not have been, I feel like there wasn't a call for treating teenage girls in that way," she said.

Wayzata and Eastview dancers even refused to accept second and third place medals after the Faribault Emeralds won, forgoing participation in the award ceremony.

Some complained a week and a half earlier the Emeralds jacked moves from the Utah Copper Hills Azurettes, their costumes and music the same. The league cleared the Emeralds of any wrongdoing. Kruesi wasn't surprised.

"I'm not surprised the league is backing the Faribault team, mostly because the language is written in a way the league was able to interpret that they did not hire an outside choreographer and they created the material themselves at least to the extent that's approved by the league," she said.

Would the Emeralds have needed to with YouTube at their fingertips?

"[YouTube] was not around at the time the rule was actually in place. These rules are from an era where you had to hire someone to come to you in order to actually use choreography that was not your own inspiration," Kruesi said.

In an anonymous e-mail a woman identifying herself as a "former dance mom," she said the league should've never allowed the routine, adding "[...] the Faribault coaches should be removed or banned from post-season next year. There is a right and wrong here and it was not the five teams that protested who were in the wrong […] they feel cheated and betrayed and now they are being portrayed as poor sports."

"They're bound within their own rules right now," Kruesi said.

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