thu 30/05/2024

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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Beyonce is more of a brand than an artist these days. She is the figurehead on the front of a giant money making machine. And so blaming her or criticising her (and her 'people') for hoovering up and rebranding the work of genuine hard working artists like De Keersmaeker is kind of missing the whole point. It is a bit like blaming or criticising a corporation for 'making too much money at the expense of workers or standards or the environment' without realising that that's what a corporation is specifically designed to do. Make money above all else. The same is true with the brand headed by Beyonce. She is a face and voice of a giant money making machine. So what do you expect to happen? Everything her organisation does is about making money before all else. It is this sheer efficiency of the cynical exploitation of art and artistry of others (in addition to whatever talent as a performer Beyonce may have herself) which separates brand Beyonce (I mean everyone involved rather than Beyonce by herself) from the more genuine artist. The industries which were supposed to merely facilitate art (record labels, media, PR etc) have now well and truly taken it over. Yet we still criticise acts like Beyonce her as if she were (a) a single artist working essentially under her own steam according to her own vision (b) playing the same game as other artists. She is neither. She is part of a team who were reportedly paid $2,000,000 to entertain Gaddafi's son. The point is not that it was Gaddafi's son (it's hard to know who we are supposed to demonise the most: Gaddafi himself, NATO for enforcing their no fly zone by bombing the country into oblivion and setting up a central bank there I beg your pardon, or the Al Qaeda 'freedom fighters' that we are now formally recognising and selling arms to), the point is the brazen greed of it all. That figure of $2,000,000 apparently represents about two week's wages for team Beyonce. Does anyone really think these people have the time (or the inclination) to develop their own unique artistic ideas and expression? Are you 'flipping' kidding me?!!! They're way too busy being rich celebs, doing endless photo shoots, meeting advisors to discussing branching out into yet more branded products (perfumes, apparel, lunchboxes, pencil cases), having plastic surgery, meeting more advisors to discuss the best investment strategies for their vast fortune and generally jet setting around the world being asked to have dinner with (and be photographed alongside) various political leaders desperate to be seen as in touch with contemporary culture. If you're going to pay any attention to these big name acts at least understand who and what they represent. And how we all get sucked into funding them and worshipping these enormous money making cultural combine harvesters. Better yet forget all about them! And stop feeding this cynically repackaged, rebranded, dumbed down consumer garbage to your children, too. And support real artists instead. End of rant :)

Well, Beyonce is a big artist and, per the above comment, that means that she may not do much of the creative development on her music/ she may not have had anything to do with it, while it's obviously plagiarism

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