Our own Jamie Freedman (Barnes & Conti Project Manager) has a music-related blog called “Always More to Hear.” Jamie recently posted a recent dance video of Beyonce, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” In this video, Beyonce takes moves done by Gwen Verdon, dancing star of Broadway and Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s, and updates them to hip hop style.
Jamie added to her post when an outcry went out that Beyonce “stole” Verdon’s moves. Jamie argues—convincingly—that Beyonce is an innovator, not a thief:
Beyonce is an innovator. I mean, true originality is sort of a farce in art. Even true geniuses are lucky to do one thing completely original in their lifetimes. It’s the innovators that take the established way, change it, and makes it new: Elvis did it with Big Mama Thorton, The Beatles did it with Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin did it with Muddy Waters and even Michael Jackson did it with breakdancing.
And anyway, we only have so many limbs and they can only move in so many directions, so as someone who knows very little about dance, it makes sense that it’s gotta be hard to come up with brand new dance moves.
You can see the Beyonce video on Jamie’s blog. Unfortunately, the Gwen Verdon videos she posted are no longer available. Gwen Verdon, by the way, was married to choreographer Bob Fosse, who was quite the innovator himself.