Avant-Garde Belgian Dancer Ridicules Beyonce for Stealing Her Moves

Avant-Garde Belgian Dancer Ridicules Beyonce for Stealing Her Moves
Top: Beyonce's video for "Countdown"; Bottom: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's "Rosas danst Rosas"
(Video stills courtesy of Youtube)

PabloPicasso once said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal," and revered namesfrom Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs have followed that adage, appropriating the workof others in creating their own. Pop star Beyoncé is the latest artist to takeheed to Picasso's words, allegedly copying the moves of avant-garde Belgianchoreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker for her "Countdown" music video. 

On an Antwerp radiostation Monday, De Keersmaekeraccused Beyoncé of swiping the moves from her experimental ballets "Rosas DanstRosas" (1983) and "Achterland" (1990). "I'm not mad, but this is plagiarism," De Keersmaeker toldStudio Brussel during an interview. "This is stealing."

It is clear whenwatching "Rosas Danst Rosas" and comparing it to "Countdown" that Beyoncéimitates de Keersmaeker's moves — among them running her fingers through herhair, pulling her shirt off her shoulders, suddenly yanking it to the right. The popstar even has the same bangs, hair length, and costume as the dancer in "Rosas DanstRosas." But Beyoncé isn't hiding anything. She admitted to appropriating deKeersmaeker's work in a statement to the New York Times: "Clearly, the ballet 'Rosas Danst Rosas' was one of many references for my video 'Countdown.' It wasone of the inspirations used to bring the feel and look of the song to life."

De Keersmaeker'sexperimental dances weren't Beyoncé's only contemporary pop culturereferences in "Countdown." "I was also paying tribute to the film, 'FunnyFace' with the legendary Audrey Hepburn," Beyoncé said in her statement to theNew York Times. "My biggest inspirations were the '60s, the '70s, BrigitteBardot, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, and Diana Ross."

"I broughtBeyoncé a number of references and we picked some out together. Most wereGerman modern-dance references, believe it or not," "Countdown"co-director Adria Petty told MTV News. Did she mistake Belgian for German?


The pop stareven admitted to be a huge fan of pastiche. "I've always been fascinated by the waycontemporary art uses different elements and references to produce somethingunique," she added in her statement. This isn't the singer's first act of appropriation. She also took inspiration from a 1969 Bob Fosse piece on "the Ed Sullivan Show" for her "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video.


De Keersmaeker, who, according to the Guardian, has appropriated the choreography of Vaslav Nijinsky's "L'Après Midi d'un Faune" for her ballet "D'un Soir un Jour," has a different view when it comes to her own work being borrowed. "Beyoncé is not the worst copycat; shesings and dances very well, and she has a good taste! On the other hand, thereare protocols and consequences to such actions, and I can't imagine she and herteam are not aware of it," the choreographer said in a statement on StudioBrussel's Web site.

See Beyoncé and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's dance moves in the following videos: