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Beyonce vs. Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

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Not the first time team Beyonce has been accused of brazenly taking credit for the creativity of others.

From her career's infancy to the present day, Beyonce has stolen from been "inspired" by a long list of talented songwriters, choreograhers, directors and even set designers.

And poor Bey is just so busy conquering the world of entertainment that she sometimes forgets to acknowlege these sources of inspiration until someone reminds her. :wink:

But even the intimidating might of her take-no-prisoners father and manager Matthew Knowles wasn't enough to secure her a co-writing credit for the Oscar-nominated original song "Listen" from the movie Dream Girls.

Rumor has it that Papa Dear had a way of insisting on co-writing credits for Beyonce on almost all her songs, even when her input was as minimal as suggesting a hand clap or finger snap on a recording take. Most songwriters, not wanting to anger the powerful Mr. Knowles and craving hits, would reportedly swallow their pride and agree.

But apparently Mr. Knowles was out of his depth when he went up against the older-than dirt and scarier-than-hen's-teeth members of the music branch of the AMPAAS. They reportedly taught him a thing or two about treachery when he tried to get his supposedly underserving daughter credit as co-writer.

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Looking at the video, there are some striking similarities. The sequences with the soloist in front of a small group is pretty clearly copied from the older work, although the later sequence (rolling on the floor) is more generic.

We're in a fascinating period right now as far as quotation is concerned. American modern dance was founded on the concept that an individual would create their own dance -- that modern dance was fundamentally an act of personal expression. You could study with someone and absorb their style, and most dancers did just that, almost to the point of becoming an acolyte, but if you were going to choreograph, the work should come from you -- it should be original. Alongside this point of view was the assumption that everyone would, at some point, make their own dance. Even people who did not really want to strike out on their own as choreographers were expected to take some kind of composition class and to make their own work. This was seen as an essential part of becoming an artist, even if you were eventually going to spend most of your dance life performing in someone else's work. This is particularly true in academic programs, where technique classes are often seen as worth fewer credits than composition classes.

But we are still in the middle of a post-modernist phase, and one of the hallmarks of post-modernism in general is the use of historical reference. Add this to the contemporary use of sampling in hip-hop culture, and you've got a situation where people expect to use the entirety of the dance world as a cook would use a pantry, taking both raw ingredients and pre-prepared food that they combine in the final product.

Beyonce, and whoever it is that works with her on these projects, are not the first pop music artists to quote extensively from existing material. Madonna's "Material Girl" and Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted Snake" were both almost step for step and shot for shot copies of older material. I never did hear anyone discuss issues of copyright with the Madonna video -- Abdul stated on a couple of talk shows that her video was an "hommage" to Bob Fosse. In both of these cases, the original material was from film, and the choreographers were dead -- I don't know if the contemporary artists approached any representative of the originators. Since it would have been very simple to prove the connection, I imagine that everyone came to some kind of agreement beforehand -- otherwise I'm sure we would have heard all about it!

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I always assumed Madonna credited Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Paula credited All That Jazz with their numbers--but Madonna has always "borrowed" from others--I believe that's a big part of pop culture, and always has been. (Similarly, while I'm not a huge fan, all the ways Lady Gaga is "influenced" by others doens't bother me too much as she has been pretty open about her influences--I believe to an extent that's the nature of pop culture.

It's the fact that Beyonce seems to have remained mum on the issue that bothers me--it's obvious that there's even more than just a hommage thing going here, and I don't know how it could be denied. Its cetainly not a new thing for Beyone--even small details oten are taken from other things (her last tour opening coming from a robot suit was the same as Kylie's Fever tour, etc).

Speaking of Beyonce, did she talk about how her Get Me Bodied video was a direct new take on Fosse's Rich Man's Frug (which of course Emma Bunton from the Spice Girls ALSO used for her Maybe video). Those examples are so obvious, I'm sure they had to give some sort of credit... I admit, I have friends who love Beyonce and had NO idea it was taken from Sweet CHarity.


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