When working with communities who have long been oppressed, it is essential to retain a framework of ethics to guide how we learn, use, and promote traditional dances and traditional knowledge. Our framework was created using the Performing Culture: Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Performing Arts. It is based on three main pillars.
The first pillar is on intellectual property rights, which refers to Indigenous and culturally diverse peoples’ heritage, including any and all performances that have been created or will be created in the future.
We recognize that the indigenous communities are the primary owners of any and all performances and information. They can authorize or refuse to authorize the commercial use of Indigenous cultural and intellectual property according to customary law. These artists and communities will receive any benefits of sharing their artform in an appropriate manner, including financial proceeds should any commercial venture be pursued. All credits due to them will be given. We also promise to maintain the secrecy of Indigenous knowledge and other cultural practices when asked to do so. Any interviews will undergo a clear consent process and the interviewee may request interviews be removed at any time.
The second pillar is on authenticity of interpretation. While we do require creative freedom to use traditional choreographies to interpret new stories, we want to retain the essence and integrity of the dance forms themselves. We strive to choreograph using traditional dance vocabularies with appropriate rituals and respect as deemed by the indigenous community, teacher, or carrier of the art form.
The third pillar is returning the performance to the community. True empowerment is realized when the people take charge and demand what they deserve. To this end, we promise to return any choreography we create back to the community from where it comes or to the community it represents both for feedback, for decision on sharing on the YouTube platform, and for publication. Any decisions to proceed are taken with their input.
Please see the Protocols for more information. We are grateful to have used and referenced these protocols to construct an ethically driven organization as we work with communities who deserve better and who have so much to share.