This is going to seem a little out of the way, but stay with me…
My short answer is Yes it is ok, but with limitations.
If you go so far as to perform the routine EXACTLY like the original, down to the music, NOT OK. This is the same as copying your neighbor’s answers on a test.
If you watch a routine and see a stunt, dance move, transition, or cheer and adapt it to fit what you are doing, this would be fine. There is very little in the cheer world that has not been done. If we look at our chant list there are many chants and cheers that have been passed down from generation to generation. They had to start somewhere. Especially when you hear parents say, “we did that one when I was in school.” Chances are the parents that are saying this didn’t come from the same area. In football, how many times have you seen, or heard, of plays and offences set up from multiple schools? Right now, the Pistol Offense is big in the college world from Coach Ault at Nevada. He developed an offense that is now being used by Oregon, UCLA, Alabama, and even some NFL teams are picking it up, just to mention a few. Is Coach Ault upset that so many teams are using it? Probably not, they don’t have his team, his coaches, or knowledge of the plays. Teams watch the film and adapt it to what they need.
The same goes for the cheer world. In fact, if you attend a cheer camp in the summer that is run by any of the major companies you are learning the same material that is being taught to 100,000 cheerleaders across the nation. Chances are you are taking the dances and cheers and adapting them to what works for your team. If you aren’t its ok too, that was the point of those routines. If you go online and snag a great dance off Youtube, there really isn’t anyway to tell if it was “original” or learned at camp. Many of the same issues come up with stunting. When someone comes up with a creative load or transition and performs it at nationals many of the teams go home and work on duplicating that stunt. Often times the cheer companies also duplicate those stunts to teach to the masses. It’s just the reality of sports. Again, for you football fans, how many teams in history have run the “statue of liberty” play?
As a coach, I am asked why I post videos of my team performing at games and assemblies. The concern is that other teams will take the ideas and perform them in competitions against us. My response is always this. “Feel free to copy our choreography. If you choose to perform it against us, you better know it better than we do.” My routines have the advantage of my teaching and my vision. If someone wants to watch it online and try to teach it, they may not know the tricks and techniques that I used. Because of that, it wont get taught exactly the same, thus adapting it for what they need.
It has been said that imitation is a form of flattery.
Absolutely! If you see something you like, make it work for you. Don’t be upset when you see your material being performed by someone else. It means it was good enough that they took the time to repeat something great!