How to Outdo Copy-Cat Performers

Posted on February 5, 2014 by


Outshine Copy-Cats

Photo: Dalton Chan
Artist: Zihni

I saw this question today on Facebook and wanted to take a moment to post some thoughts.

Question: What’s the best way to deal with a copy-cat performance group? Let’s say this group has been around longer, but hasn’t had any fresh ideas for a while, then they start to mimic your group’s shows, style, and promotion methods, and encroach on the events and performance venues you get permitted. Imitation is the most annoying form of flattery. What to do??

First off, be graceful. It’s a difficult thing when you think people are imitating you. Also realize, they may, in all genuineness, have discovered it on their own in parallel. In fact, this has happened, I’ve witnessed it and I’ve seen people lose friendships over it because assumptions were made that were incorrect and everyone was so attached to their ego and/or being right, they couldn’t make amends and recover their friendships.

And, a corollary to that: do your research. Ask questions. Find out how they got the inspiration they did. Be direct, ask them and open the conversation. They may lie to your face. They may also tell you something you didn’t know and have you be really grateful you didn’t react.

Second, be more innovative. If you were actually innovative enough to do something that inspired people to copy you in the first time, do it again! In fact, why wouldn’t you continue to be innovating and moving forward? If you continue to innovate, they can never actually catch up.

Third, be better than them. Practice more, practice harder, practice better and accomplish more. Be more polished. Be more rigorous. Use them as motivation from which to push off — your efforts to distinguish your own greatness will speak for itself.

Fourth, make sure you date your material in the world (videos, blog posts, promotional materials, pictures with costumes, etc.) so people can see you’ve been doing it longer and other’s copied you. Some would say don’t post it.

Fifth, if you can do this — damn you better teach me how, and — continue to move through the world shining as best you can and remember what they do is none of your business. It’s wisdom… and in my experience, incredibly difficult to do. I have found it often requires active meditation and returning to the practice of letting it go in order to let it go.

Also remember this: imitation is not embodiment. If you are truly BEING your art, their imitation will be so pale in comparison. If you are truly innovating you are doing something worthy of being imitated yet to intimidating to try to imitate because you know, no matter how you’re doing it, no one else will truly be able to capture your essence and/or won’t really want to try because it doesn’t resonate for them as it does for you.

I love Freeze Dried Mangos. There is no reality in which it is the same experience as a fresh, juicy ripe mango ever so succulently filling your mouth with yummy goodness. Think of the imitators as the freeze dried mango.

Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little at symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).

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