In the age of technology, dance has become increasingly accessible to people worldwide. No longer must children rely on VHS tapes to learn choreography in their basements. Instead, they can learn the newest dance trends through various media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. However, when you look closely, these crazes often featured on TV shows, movies and Broadway remain faceless. It is often hard to pinpoint where these trends began; therefore, choreographers remain unrecognized for their moments of artistic genius. JaQuel Knight, a World-renowned choreographer for artists such as Beyonce, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B, fights to end this cycle by copyrighting his most recognized routines.
Knight recently made history when he copyrighted his choreography from Beyonce’s single ladies routine. He became the first choreographer to copyright their choreography. After this achievement, Knight started Knight Choreography & Music Publishing, a company dedicated to helping artists gain rights over their artistic creations.
In an interview with NPR, Knight shed light on the importance of copyrighting his work. “I felt like it validates our positioning and ownership,” Knight said. “What copyrighting does is allow you to still have your hand on it, even after the work is done — so as people go and want to use your IP, use your choreography in feature films, commercials, even on video games, you still have ownership and you should still collect some sort of residual payment for such usage.”
Although copyrighting poses complications for those who subscribe to various media outlets, Knight reaffirmed, “the point of copyrighting isn’t to protect us from [people] doing the dances at home. It’s to protect the creator from these huge corporations that come in and take advantage.”
Dancers and choreographers are often underpaid and unrecognized. Jobs are few and far between, and those lucky enough to get an opportunity are often hired to dance in the background of a headliner. Knight’s company allows dancers to step into the spotlight and receive recognition for their talents.
If choreographers join Knight’s in his copyright mission, the dance industry may look very different in the future. It will shift from a free-flowing artistic outlet, to a respected industry where dancers are compensated for their talents and earn the respect they deserve.
Edited by Isabella Druckman