Can Music Artists Stop Stealing from Choreographers Already?
What makes big-time music artists and their collaborators think they can directly plagiarize the work of concert dance choreographers?
And, no, this time we're not talking about Beyoncé.
Last Wednesday, country artist Kelsea Ballerini performed her song "Miss Me More" at the Country Music Awards. The choreography by Nick Florez and R.J. Durell—which Taste of Country said "stole the show" and Billboard lauded as "elaborate"—features a group of dancers in white shirts and black pants performing with chairs onstage, often arranged in a semicircle. They move in quick canons, throw their heads back, and fling themselves in and out of their chairs.
If you think this sounds like a description of the iconic "Echad Mi Yodea" sequence of Ohad Naharin's Minus 16, you're not wrong.
This is more than just choreographers drawing inspiration from a seminal dance work. It's directly copied:
Kelsea Ballerini's CMA Performance:
Ohad Naharin's Minus 16:
Did Ballerini realize that her choreography was plagiarized? Probably not. But still, she most likely knows about the issue now, and has not acknowledged it:
But the choreographers certainly knew what they were doing. Beyond the obvious issue of plagiarizing Naharin's work, it's insulting that choreographers hired for a major televised award show—an opportunity most artists can only ever dream about—used their platform to steal someone else's work.
If only this were a one-time fluke. But it's happened before, and will probably happen again. As Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron pointed out when Beyoncé plagiarized Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for her "Countdown" video, it almost feels as if the choreographers found a piece they liked on YouTube, and figured it was obscure enough that no one would notice if they copied it.
But Batsheva—Naharin's home company and the birthplace of Minus 16—is taking it all in stride, and using it as a marketing opportunity. A post on the company's Facebook page reads:
"Over the past few days, we have received many messages from friends about the extraordinary similarity between Kelsea Ballerini's CMA performance and Ohad Naharin's "Echad Mi Yodea." Come watch the real thing."
We couldn't agree more.
When the news broke that Prince George, currently third in line for the British throne, would be continuing ballet classes as part of his school curriculum this year, we were as excited as anyone. (Okay, maybe more excited.)
This was not, it seems, a sentiment shared by "Good Morning America" host Lara Spencer.
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
If you're seeking an extra dash of inspiration to start the new season on the right—dare we say—foot, look no further than dance documentaries.
Starting August 23, OVID, a streaming service dedicated to docs and art-house films, is adding eight notable dance documentaries to its library. The best part? There's a free seven-day trail. (After that, subscriptions are $6.99 per month or $69.99 annually.)
From the glamour of Russian ballet stars to young dancers training in Cuba to a portrait of powerhouse couple Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder, here's what's coming to a couch near you: