Beyoncé‘s new Countdown music video is mesmerizing to most of us, but there’s one person out there who isn’t quite as fond of it — and her name is Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, a Belgian choreographer who took one look at Beyoncé’s moves in that video (which you can watch again, below) and said they very closely resemble some of the moves she constructed for various artists. On her blog, Keersmaeker wrote “I didn’t know anything about this. I’m not mad, but this is plagiarism… This is stealing. They took pieces from Achterland and Rosas danst Rosas. It’s a bit rude, I must say. What’s rude about it is that they don’t even bother hiding it. They seem to think they could do it because it’s a famous work… Am I honored? Look, I’ve seen local kids doing this. That’s a lot more beautiful.”
As it turns out, Keersmaeker is one of the most well known choreographers of contemporary dance. She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of Performing Arts in 1981 and then founded her own dance company in 1983, called Rosas. The first dance she choreographed for her company was called Rosas danst Rosas (which is one of the dances she accuses Beyoncé of sampling in her Countdown video), and it was so well received that it made her an international icon in the performing arts field. Keersmaeker continued to dance and direct throughout the 80s and then produced Achterland in 1990, which is routinely performed all over the world. Below, you can see a video that pins Keersmaeker’s choreography up against the Countdown track, and overlap between this video and Countdown video definitely visible.
Most of us would probably side with Beyoncé if this was the first time a fellow artist accused her of incorporating someone else’s moves into her performances, but Beyoncé has actually been accused of this before. At the Billboard Awards earlier this year, B gave an unforgettable performance of Run The World (Girls), which was pretty undeniably similar to a routine that Italian dancer Lorella Cuccarini did in 2010. Below you can see the dances side by side, and you can watch Beyoncé’s full dance here.
So does Beyoncé really lift the work of other artists and then include them in her own performances? It’s a tough call because art influences other art, and there’s nothing illegal about that including someone else’s moves amongst your own. However, in the case of someone as (usually) original as Beyoncé, it certainly is a little bit questionable. And it doesn’t help Beyoncé’s case that she’s pregnant and quite possibly didn’t have the energy to come up with some entirely new material. I’m not at all saying that’s what happened — but it’s not a completely implausible argument.