Rosas danst rosas at MCA Chicago

You are probably already familiar with the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, either because she’s been making groundbreaking, precedent-setting work for 30 years, or because that work was co-opted by Beyonce several years ago for her music video “Countdown” (to the general ire of the internet: here, and here, and check out Andy Horwitz’s discussion of the whole situation).

One of the works in question is Rosa danst rosas, created by Keeersmaeker at the age of 24 for her company’s 1983 premiere. It’s a stark and daring piece, combining simple repetitive seated gestures and standing spins. The work demands total presence from its performers and speaks to issues of gender and voice, punctuated constantly by the breaths of its performers. When it premiered, it made Keersmaeker as a choreographer and still influences dance today.

Beyonce’s  blatant copying prompted, at the time, a number of questions. Keersmaker asked, in a statement: does this mean that thirty years is the time that it takes to recycle non-mainstream experimental performance? Andy Horwitz asked: How do we engender a more meaningful two-way dialogue between mass and art culture? A number of other questions arise: can we define a legal line between ‘inspiration’ and plagiarism? At what point do original sources need to be financially compensated? Why couldn’t Beyonce just give credit where it was due at the outset?

Probably the most enlivening outcome of the controversy is a response called Re:rosas, in which the artist released the method behind the piece and encouraged people around the world to re-perform the work. On the steps of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, several dancers particpiated in Re:rosas in celebration of the iconic works’ staging at the museum’s Edlis Neeson Theater.

So yes: if you’re in Chicago, you can finally see Rosas danst rosas live. So you can decide for yourself if the theft of her choreography signals a lack of appreciation for the craft of performance, or something else. This weekend’s dancers are Cynthia Loemij, Linda Blomqvist, Sandra Ortega Bejarano, Tale Dolven, and Sue-Yeon Youn.

Rosas danst rosas is playing October 9-12 in the Edlis Neeson Theater at MCA Stage. Tickets are $28 and a limited quantity of $10 student tickets is available. The MCA Box Office is at 312.397.4010 or One free general museum admission is granted with an MCA Stage ticket stub, valid up to seven days after the performance.





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