Popular Dance Choreographer JaQuel Knight Starts Music Company To Copyright Dance Moves And Protect Artists
The choreographer says with his new company he hopes to put "the power back in the artist's hands."
April 22, 2021 at 11:31 pm
In a historic first, lauded dance choreographer JaQuel Knight who has launched Knight Choreography and Music Publishing Inc. is the first dance artist to copyright his moves.
“Copyrighting movement is about putting the power back in the artist’s hands,” Knight told Variety. “We set a historic precedent with our ‘Single Ladies’ copyright achievement, and we are thrilled to be launching Knight Choreography & Music Publishing, Inc. so that the next generation of artists are afforded the same platform, resources and tools to thrive, creatively and financially, in the commercial music industry.”
Essentially, the company will run in a manner similar to a music publisher. Instead of copyrighting music, though, the business will broker licensing deals and secure intellectual property protections in regards to choreography and dance moves.
Knight’s company also aims to work on the behalf of an inclusive and diverse group of artists and creatives across all genres. The company will act as its client strategic partner in copyright, licensing and other creative legal endeavors as it attempts to revolutionize the industry for Black creatives.
As Blavity previously reported, the issue of Black artists not receiving proper credit for their work was evident at the beginning of the month when social media personality Addison Rae came under fire for her appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
During the show, Rae was invited to teach Fallon trendy internet dances, which included a routine created by 15-year-old Mya Johnson to Cardi B's song “Up.” Following public outcry from Rae’s appropriation, Fallon and his team later corrected the attribution, according to Black Enterprise.
“I was shocked and I was really happy ’cause it’s like my challenge made it all the way to TV, which is like—that’s crazy.” Johnson said. “But then as I started to think, I was like dang, I wish that could’ve been me and Chris [Cotter] performing our own challenge at his show.”
Knight, who has spent decades in the music choreography space, has collaborated with some of the biggest and most talented artists in music like Rihanna, Britney Spears, Tinashe and a myriad of others. However, it was his work with megastar Beyoncé that launched his career and elevated his platform. Knight won a pair of MTV Awards for his efforts on Bey’s “Formation” as well as his work on “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” according to Variety.
At 19, the artist crafted the iconic “Single Ladies” choreography and found similar success years later for Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B's “WAP” video. He told NPR that he draws on his southern culture and the Black familial experience to motivate his art.
"For me, it was all about tapping into my upbringing," Knight said. "I'm from a small town in North Carolina where we frequent family reunions, family cookouts, on the weekends. There's always music and dance. And also, I grew up in Atlanta — [so there are influences from] the streets of Atlanta, being in a marching band and having that mix of culture there."
Last year, the dance artist extraordinaire served as the creative director for Meg’s virtual summer concert.