Last week, Beyoncé unveiled her new music video for "Countdown," a fun, colorful vid that's not shy about giving visual props to iconic movies like Funny Face, West Side Story, and Flashdance. However, it's a lesser-known inspiration that has Beyoncé facing plagiarism accusations. While well-known films gave "Countdown" its style, the dance moves were lifted, without credit, from the works of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Studio Brussels posted the above comparison video between Beyoncé and De Keersmaeker's moves (via Vulture), and the similarities are too close to ignore.
Watch the scene of the alleged crime, the "Countdown" music video:
"I didn't know anything about this. I'm not mad, but this is plagiarism. This is stealing," De Keersmaeker told Studio Brussels. "What's rude about it 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 honored? Look, I've seen local school kids doing this. That's a lot more beautiful."
Beyonce's rep didn't immediately respond to our request for comment.
The video's director, Adria Petty (Tom Petty's daughter, incidentally), spoke to MTV about what inspired the look and choreography of "Countdown," and while De Keersmaeker wasn't mentioned by name, Petty admitted that the dance moves were borrowed from Europe. "I brought Beyoncé a number of references and we picked some out together. Most were German modern-dance references, believe it or not. But it really evolved," Petty said. Judging by the side-by-side comparison, however, they don't look too evolved. Here's a longer look at the dance moves Beyoncé "referenced" in "Countdown," by YouTube user fundifferent1:
This isn't the first time a Beyoncé performance has been met with accusations of ripping off another artist: Knowles' mind-blowing rendition of "Run the World (Girls)" at the Billboard Music Awards was instantly met with claims that the singer borrowed heavily from the similar screen projection work of Italian singer Lorella Cuccarini. Digital artist Kenzo Digital, who worked on that Beyoncé performance, revealed to The Amp that Cuccarini's use of the white screen is what initially inspired Beyoncé's team to go a similar route, but when that technology was used by someone as talented as Knowles, it was catapulted to another level.
- Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker