Theatre Critic and Journalist

Beyoncé accused of ‘stealing’ dance moves in new video

Beyoncé accused of ‘stealing’ dance moves in new video

Published in The Guardian, 10.10.2011

A leading choreographer has accused Beyoncé of “stealing” dance moves, after the American singer launched her latest music video.

According to entertainment website, choreography in the video for Beyoncé’s new single Countdown, released last week, shows a number of similarities with work by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Speaking to a Danish blog, De Keersmaeker said she had not been asked permission: “I didn’t know anything about this. I’m not mad, but this is plagiarism.”

Two routines in the video, which shows Beyoncé and her backing dancers in a number of disused buildings, have come under scrutiny. One creates a split-screen effect, with the singer looking to camera through a window on the left, while three female dancers perform a ballet routine in the background on the right. A remarkably similar effect and movements appear in De Keersmaeker’s first work with her company, Rosas Danst Rosas. Another sequence strongly resembles choreography from Achterland, a filmed version of which won the Dance Screen award in 1994.

Beyoncé has not responded to the allegations, but her co-director, Adria Petty, has previously spoken about showing the singer footage of European contemporary dance for inspiration. She told MTV News: “I brought Beyoncé a number or references and we picked some out together. Most were German modern dance references, believe it or not.” Petty said the process was “evolving [and] spontaneous”.

It is the second time Beyoncé has been accused of plagiarism this year, after choreography and visual effects for her performance of Run the World (Girls) at the Billboard Music awards in May was likened to one by Lorella Cuccarini. In that instance, Beyoncé subsequently admitted having been inspired by Cuccarini.

De Keersmaeker has been a major force in contempoary dance for more than 30 years, creating work that has received critical acclaim and popular success around the world. In a 2009 profile, The Guardian‘s Sanjoy Roy described her as “a difficult choreographer with a popular following, a minimalist with a tendency to dramatise, a reiticent person with a lot to say”.

De Keersmaeker continued: “What’s rude is that they don’t even bother about hiding it. They seem to think they could do it because it’s a famous work … Am I honoured? Look I’ve seen local school kids doing this. That’s a lot more beautiful.”

Photograph: Anne Theresa De Keersmaeker

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