The Performance Club


This article was written on 07 Oct 2011, and is filed under Claudia's Blog.

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Oh no she didn’t…

I’ve been in a head-cold haze these past few days. But this little item in my inbox (thanks, Ben) perked me up:

Beyoncé vs. Anne Teresa

It appears that Ms. Knowles (or, more likely, one of her persons) has been studying Ms. De Keersmaeker. [Update: it appears that Ms. De K is not amused! Per the Guardian: "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."]

Oh yes she did

On the one hand, how great. Beyoncé has a track record of referencing and repurposing in her videos (ATDK is just the tip of the iceberg in Countdown). On the other hand, what about credit? What about intellectual property? Do the artists she references/borrows/steals from get anything in return? Like, um, cash?

Because, of course, were Beyoncé some broke-ass indie singer-songwriter with a measly cult following, what would it matter? Or if she lived in the concert dance world. There’s a long history of referencing/borrowing/stealing among choreographers (look at Sarah Michelson’s Devotion for a recent, and fabulous, example). And of course dancers have long been responsible (and not always credited) for generating movement for their bosses.

Maybe she could just, I dunno – endow PARTS. And call it a day.


  1. John Wyszniewski
    October 7, 2011

    Many choreographers reference/borrow/steal. It’s just part of contemporary art making. Let’s not hold Beyonce to a higher level just because she has more cash.

  2. claudia
    October 7, 2011

    I agree – but, you know, people get irritated when choreographers do it, too. I talked to someone right after “Devotion” who was super irritated that Michelson didn’t credit Twyla Tharp in the program, that there was no written acknowledgment to go along with the obvious visual one. The big dance trusts can be super intense when it comes to policing – from getting things nixed on YouTube to asking independent choreographers to cease and desist on referencing. And I’ve had conversations with dancers who are super ambivalent about the fact that their work in a collaborative setting isn’t always represented accurately.

    But it’s interesting – collage, sampling, referencing, it’s all such a part of the scenery these days, in pretty much every artistic discipline. I use found language all the time in my own writing. In some ways the whole idea of intellectual property seems, not outmoded, but … not quite nuanced enough for the air we now breathe.

  3. claudia
    October 7, 2011

    and, of course, it’s a two-way street:

  4. John Wyszniewski
    October 7, 2011

    Definitely a reason why you are the writer: “In some ways the whole idea of intellectual property seems, not outmoded, but … not quite nuanced enough for the air we now breathe.”

    Well said rock star!

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