We have been big Beyonce fans — but there’s a storm brewing in Beyonceland as it becomes clear she lifted the choreography for her “Single Ladies” video from a Bob Fosse dance number called “Mexican Breakfast” starring Gwen Verdon and performed live in June, 1969 on the Ed Sullivan Show. Here is the original “Mexican Breakfast” in it’s fully glory — and while the audio has been removed for Copyright reasons, you can still see the dance in full:
If you are unfamiliar with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” — here is the official video. The Beyonce people do not allow that YouTube video to be embedded for playing on websites.
I wonder why?
Here’s why: This is Fosse’s “Mexican Breakfast” choreography with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” playing instead of the original music.
There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between 1969 and 2008 — suggesting the ultimate in artistic grave robbery — and that speaks to the ultimate genius of Bob Fosse as a choreographer.
How could Fosse invent something in 1969 that would still be fresh and incredibly popular 40 years later? Only his SuperGenius knows while the rest of us are left wandering in the dust.
In the past, I have argued stealing for inspiration is good — there are no original ideas any more — but a bright and dangerous line has been crossed by Beyonce into what I believe is “choreographic plagiarism.”
Inspiration is different than copying.
Beyonce seemed to know she went too far directly lifting dance steps, camera movement, energy, invention, heart, mind, soul and spirit from “Mexican Breakfast” as she confesses in this interview. It’s especially damming she mentions YouTube because it was YouTube that caught her dancing on Bob Fosse’s grave:
It’s unfortunate Beyonce and her team couldn’t come up with a more original idea for her song.
If she had to lift “Mexican Breakfast” — she should’ve given Fosse credit for the choreography right from the start — but sometimes ego and fantasy stand in the way of truth and morality.
Here are Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse later in life. Let’s celebrate their original, genius, work together that still stands fresh and delightful today in spite of their deaths. He died in 1987; she in 2000. We’ll also try to look beyond their curious personal relationship as we admire them from afar in awe.