Beyoncé and De Keersmaeker

One of the most high-profile debates about the ‘referencing’ of dance occurred in 2011 when Beyoncé used sequences from Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s works Rosas dasnt Rosas (1983) and Achterland (1990), for her company Rosas, in her video for Countdown. De Keersmaeker claimed that Knowles had plagiarized her work, and threatened legal action (Yeoh 2013). However, Adria Petty, the co-director of the music video strongly denied this claim, explaining how she showed Knowles multiple videos as inspiration (McKinley Jr 2011). Indeed, the Countdown video is made up almost entirely of ‘references’ to other cultural icons and dance routines. See 

This is not the first of Knowles’s videos to use existing choreography, the choreography in the video for Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) (2008), for example, derives directly from Bob Fosse’s Mexican Breakfast (1969). See

Whilst those viewers familiar with the references used might see Beyoncé’s videos as postmodern referencing, or intertextual pastiche, unfamiliar viewers will perhaps assume that the choreography, styling and so on is original to Knowles and Petty, perhaps pointing to De Keersmaeker’s initial response.

However, De Keersmaeker’s anger did not seem to last long. In 2013 she and Rosas teamed up with fABULEUS, a Belgian arts production organisation develop Re:Rosas! This is a website featuring specially recorded films in which De Keersmaeker, and dancer Samantha van Wissen, who lead viewers through a simplified version of the ‘chair section’ or ‘second movement’ of Rosas danst Rosas (Re:Rosas, 2013), one of the sections that appears in the Countdown video. The site encourages viewers to use the site to develop their own versions of the work, which can then be submitted to the site, to form part of an online gallery. See


De Keersmaeker/Rosas (n.d.) 

McKinley Jr, James, C. (2011) “Beyoncé Accused of Plagiarism Over Video”, New York Times, October 10 [online], available from Accessed 28th May 2016

Yeoh, F. (2013) “The copyright implications of Beyoncé’s choreographic ‘borrowings’.” Choreographic Practices 4 (1),  95-117


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s