Monday, November 17, 2008

"Single Ladies": Beyonce and Gwen Verdon choreography

I'm sorry but I just cannot help myself.

I took a gander at Beyonce's new video "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and, wow: the song is nothing special, but check out her dance moves. This woman is wildly talented, we knew that; but she just keeps upping herself.

(I know I've included three videos here, but if you're not going to watch all of them, at least watch some of each, you have to see the progression.)



And then I found this: someone on youtube referred to Gwen Verdon, a dancer and actress named who made herself known in the 1950s and 60s on Broadway. She starred in Bob Fosse's Damn Yankees and Sweet Charity.

After watching this video, hip thrusting and all, it is pretty obvious that Beyonce is putting Verdon's moves in a modern hip-hop (and way sexier) context and thrown some Tina Turner into the mix. This juxtaposition of Beyonce's audio track with Verdon's video is actually really fun to watch. Love, LOVE the outfits.

ADDENDUM: "They" deleted this video, very sad. It fit perfectly.



But what made me want, no NEED, to post about this this video of Verdon's choreography with the original music called "Mexican Breakfast" from the Ed Sullivan Show. Um, HILARIOUS!

ADDENDUM: "They" have deleted these videos! So sad, the music was fantastic.

And just to get a feeling for it: if you were able to watch all the way to the end, Sullivan refers to Verdon as the "greatest dancer that show business has ever produced."

Maybe watch this opening clip of the Austin Powers theme and you will be transported back in time. I'm sure Mike Myers based this theme song and opening dance sequence on this genre of dance.

Please comment. I want to know you're laughing with me : )



ADDENDUM: I've been seeing a lot of folks berating Beyonce for "stealing" Verdon's moves: THIS IS NOT THE SAME CHOREOGRAPHY people! Can you imagine if Beyonce did the exact same dance moves in a newly released music video, especially in that hot outfit? It would be absolutely ridiculous. We'd be laughing our go-go boots off!

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.


Gwen Verdon Fosse Original 60

ALEX | MySpace Video

13 comments:

Laurie said...

Jamie, have to agree with you about the song. In fact, don't understand why it's being repeated. A good "steal" from Beyonce though. I'm sure the moves in the 60's were considered sexy, but today's version with Beyonce and her partners is definitely hot!

Jeff said...

Not only are those some sexy 60s moves, but I now have an insatiable hunger for some seriously old-school dating game shows.

h.a.w.t.

Jamie: said...

God I just cannot get over those fluffy sleeves! I'm sure those moves were super sexy in the 60's, it's amazing how those things change.

Meeks said...

Please tell me you've seen this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ifGHUfR5Ks
I have no idea how to add it as a link so copy and paste...but it's brilliant. Beyonce has NOTHING on this guy. She should take him on tour.

Jamie: said...

Oh yes, I've seen this one. Gotta give Shane some props. I just keep getting distracted by his outfit : )

Madazhell said...

Just so you know...I love that you posted these three pieces..
I just had to tell you that Gwen Verdon also starred in and was the original Roxie Hart in CHICAGO...

which was after all Bob Fosse's show, idea and creation...along with Kander and Ebb the composer's.

Also Fosse and Verdon's daughter, Nicole Fosse is in the film version of 'A Chorus Line' (1985)

Verdon's last appearance in the movies was the Aunt in the film version of the play Marvin's Room
starring Meryl Streep, Diane keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio and Hume Cronyn....I know all that without looking at Wikipedia!

Thanks for the passion!

Mark

Jamie: said...

Hey Mark! Thanks so much for your comment. It's nice to have an expert around. I wish "they" didn't take down the original video from the Sullivan show. It was so awesome!

Sarah said...

I want her legs.

Sarah Jane said...

I have been admiring this Beyonce video for a good month now, knowing it was inspired by Verdon without having to check the world wibe web. But today I decided to check and see how many people are talking about it in that context. People are berating B for "stealing" Verdon's moves??? That's crazy! For one, if she were copying her even exactly, it would still be respectable--and a form of flattery. Secondly, you're right about our limbs--not much more that can be done unless we start dancing aflame.
She paid homage to Verdon by doing this video. It is innovative, fresh and stands out from all the lazy music videos I'm seeing these days.
Nice blog :)

Jamie: said...

Hey Sarah Jane! Thanks for your comment. I have also been amused by the amount of attention this video has been receiving. Let me just say that many a googler (like yourself perhaps?) have found my blog because of their curiosity.

Even yahoo! posted a story on all of the video responses it received.

"They" finally repost some of those old videos to youtube, but I think the one with the original music is still missing, which is why I found it so funny initially.

I like your movie blog by the way! Good for the netflix queue.

Meeks said...

I meant to comment on this again but if you watch Sweet Charity...you will see the exact moves. It's not this video, it's the choreography from the movie. And of course I can't remember the name of the number and don't feel like looking it up. But I believe that's what people were referring to.

Jamie: said...

Fosse choreography is so awesome, it just screams 60s! I should watch "Sweet Charity"some time. I think I saw the musical in college.

sirking said...

This one is good. keep up the good work!.. salsa dancing

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