The Class AAA high-kick dance scandal might be the greatest controversy in Minnesota high school sports since Austin’s basketball team was booed vigorously for showing up to play Edgerton in the 1960 state championship game at Williams Arena.
OK, I’m exaggerating there, but as an old-timer, that was one example of odd behavior that quickly came to mind.
I did some reading between the lines from the distance of Fort Myers, Fla. and I have come up with this theory:
The Dance Team Rules Coordination members for the Minnesota State High School League were not particularly proud of the decision they were forced to make in investigating a protest against the Faribault Emeralds high-kickers after the sectional meet sent that team to last Saturday’s state competition.
I’m suggesting this based on one word – “current’’ – that appeared in the letter sent to the interested parties informing them that Faribault would be allowed to compete with its section-winning, 3 ½-minute routine.
As in the part of the letter that declared Dance Team Rule Coordination members and members of the MSHSL staff determined that “current MSHSL Dance Team rules were not violated.’’
There was also a reminder in the letter as to the proper procedure for attempting to get the rules changed, and that would be after the season.
I’m guessing the change that might be pursued by the unhappy non-champs who protested at the end of Saturday’s competition would be to make originality a larger share of the “creativity’’ criteria that is part of the scoring process.
(Note: The protest didn’t start after the final results were announced. The five non-winning teams assembled away from the Faribault team before the Emeralds’ state title was officially announced.)
The word plagiarism is being tossed around in this dispute. The definitions for plagiarism include the following: 1, to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own; 2, to use another’s production without crediting the source.
Part of the storyline was that the Emeralds were exonerated from the plagiarism charge by the MSHSL.
Sorry. There’s no way that the Dance Team Rule Coordination members could be saying that Faribault failed to “pass off ideas’’ as its own, or “used another’s production.’’
They used the ideas of the state champions from Utah, the Copper Hills Azurettes, to win a state title. And if the routine wasn’t preceded by an announcement by the Emeralds to the crowd and the judges, “this is our variation of a little something that we picked up from a great dance team in Utah,’’ then I’d say you’re passing it off as your own.
As for Point 2, Faribault coach Lois Krinke, a wily veteran of 24 years of coaching, did admit to taking the “concept’’ for the winning routine from the Azurettes. Krinke also insisted to KARE-TV that, as far as her team’s menu of moves was concerned, very little was copied.
“If any amount of time was similar, it was four seconds here and there and never consecutively,’’ she said.
Shannon Mortensen, the coach of the Copper Hills Azurettes, clearly disagreed in comments to Kate Raddatz from WCCO:
“They copied costuming, music, the theme and choreography, so it’s more than just they stole a few movements here and there.’’
Mortenson also told WCCO that she had received an anonymous e-mail from a Minnesota dancer asking for the music from the Azurettes’ routine, and her response was that the dancer’s team could not use it.
Ken Hubert, the Faribault athletic director, offered this defense to WCCO: The Minnesota State High School League doesn’t have a rule on how much of a dance that a team can "borrow.'' He also made the point the Emeralds did obey the state league rule that a team can’t bring in outside choreographers. so they got that going for them, which is nice.
“You don’t disparage these kids,” Hubert said. “What they did was fantastic and was within the rules and they should not feel bad at all.”
All in all, it sounds from here like the Emeralds used the high-kick dance version of the chop block near the line of scrimmage:
It might be legal, but it makes you cringe … and opposing coaches and competitors aren’t going to smile about it and offer congratulations.