The Ethical Side of Choreography

Over the past few days I’ve been following a debate on Beyonce Knowles’ choreography for her new music video.  Today the news broke that she indeed was “influenced” by Belgian choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker has accused Beyonce of stealing routines for her “Countdown” video, calling it “pure plagiarism,” Belgian dance troupe Rosas said Monday.

On Tuesday, Beyonce acknowledged that her latest video was “inspired” by the work of a Belgian choreographer who has threatened to sue for plagiarism.

This brings up a lot of questions regarding influence versus plagiarism in dance.  With the commercial dance industry booming, dancers and choreographers are constantly seeing and being influenced by each other’s work.

Personally, I have adopted certain “tricks” in my dance classes that I have seen done on TV shows or at dance competitions.  This might include new methods of leaping, turning, or “falls” that are increasingly popular in the dance world.

I believe that a certain degree influence is generally accepted in the dance world, and the commercialization of dance has helped dance studios and teachers grow in creative ways.  We are privileged to see the most creative, innovative dance styles & moves on a daily basis through tv shows like “So You Think You Can Dance”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “America’s Best Dance Crew”, and of course the dance encyclopedia that is YouTube.

However, “ripping off” a dance routine or a choreography sequence and claiming it as your own is wrong (and lazy!).

Studio Brussel, a Belgian radio station has produced a “side by side” of the two videos at odds. It intercuts clips of Beyonce’s October 7 Countdown video, with the 1997 film that musician and filmmaker Thierry de May made of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas danst Rosas. The comparison video has gotten close to a million and a half hits.

See for yourself, what do you think?  Influence or plagiarism?


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