wed 17/10/2018

Beyoncé stole my moves, says high priestess of modern dance | reviews, news & interviews

Beyoncé stole my moves, says high priestess of modern dance

Beyoncé stole my moves, says high priestess of modern dance

YouTube puts pop diva in dock over choreography plagiarism for second time

Split screen: Beyoncé to the left, Rosas to the right

Has the great pop diva Beyoncé plagiarised the great modern dance diva Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker? This is the burning question that has today sent disco popsters and fans of austere contemporary dance in a feverish crush to YouTube, comparing Beyoncé’s new "Countdown" vid with De Keersmaeker’s art-house dance Rosas danst Rosas. They’re turning over micro-flashes of Beyoncé, running them back, comparing them with… well, you have plenty of choose from, as De Keersmaeker doesn’t believe in throwing away her ideas in 10 seconds.

And without any doubt, as anyone with eyes can see, the resemblances are exact. The empty factory building in both has the same pillars, the same chequered floor, the wooden chairs are all there, the girls are in pale-grey loose tops, black mini skirts, they claw their tops off their shoulders in the same way, toss their hair in the same way, they stare through the window in precisely the same framing.

A handy 30-second compilation alternating some identical sequences from the two works of art has turned up on YouTube.

It doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Watch, say, from 3:20-3:33 of Beyoncé’s "Countdown"...

... then watch 15 seconds of Rosas Danst Rosas from 0:49-1:03.

An open-and-shut case, surely. And a double whammy for De Keersmaeker, who told a Danish blog not only was she not asked permission to have her moves so blatantly appropriated by the pop star, but that “local schoolkids” could have done it better.

Worse was to come, however. Beyoncé’s co-director has admitted on MTV that she helped the singer pick out “a number of references… most were German modern dance references”. This alone could not have pleased the Belgian choreographer.

Plagiarism is a cause that’s increasingly problematic as music videos pack more jump-cuts per minute than Ken Dodd can fire out jokes. Being original in pop is hard: "Countdown"'s opening words are "killing me softly", an arresting phrase famous from another song, as is the phrase "dedicated to the one I love" later on.

This is also the second time Beyoncé has been caught out with other people's moves. Earlier this year she admitted that her spectacular “Run the World (Girls)” video was “inspired” by the relatively obscure Italian pop video-dancemaker Lorella Cuccarini.

However, she may not get away so easily here. De Keersmaeker is one of the biggest forces in the modern dance world, and she was reported to have written ominously yesterday on the Studio Brussels website (no longer linking), “There are protocols and consequences to such actions, and I can’t imagine [Beyoncé] and her team are not aware of it.”

Simultaneously expressing displeasure at the principle of being ripped off without dues and describing Beyoncé as “not the worst copycat” around, the choreographer may be secretly gratified to see that the YouTube of Rosas Danst Rosas is suddenly becoming bedecked with comments from Beyoncé fans delighted to discover her work in this way.

But would Beyoncé have paid such homage had she actually experienced the punishing reality of this two-hour minimalist work? (It was last performed at Sadler's Wells two years ago.) This is a PR situation that De Keersmaeker should win handsomely.

Plagiarism is increasingly problematic as music videos pack more jump-cuts per minute than Ken Dodd can fire out jokes

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