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MY POWER

What is Beyoncé telling Blue Ivy by allowing/encouraging her to dance in the Renaissance Tour? And what is the unspoken communication of the dance that they chose to do? From my point of view:

By Melissa BrownPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 15 min read
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Me and my parents 1969-in Rome, Italy with their artist friend Gerald Wasserman

First I will give you a little background about me, and how Beyoncé and Blue Ivy's dynamic relates to me. Then, in case you don’t keep up with social media; some observations about how consumers of popular culture, music and the arts react to “The Carter Family” Jay-Z, Beyonce, their children, Blue Ivy (the oldest daughter) their twins Rumi and Sir. And Beyoncé’s family of origin, her Mother Tina Lawson, Father Mathew, extended family and sister Solange. And lastly, how I came to consider myself in the “Beehive”=avid fans of Beyoncé.

About me-my parents are both visual artists and my mother was a Bohemian. In the 60s and 70s my dad considered himself a classic Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” inspired Beatnik, denies any affiliation with the word “Hippie”. He is also an unpublished poet. For whatever reason, perhaps self esteem issues beaten into him by his father, he told me many times, growing up, that like Van Gogh, he might only been known by others, after he passed away. In the last 30 years my dad’s current wife has taken steps to help him organize gallery shows. He is a member of several Art Associations. One time he and his friend had a booth at the Renaissance fair, my dad, who is a welder and a sculpture, made coins in the same way they made them during renaissance times. Which involves melted metal poured in a dip in a leather pillow, then the coin design is impressed on the warm metal. Other than that, and the gallery shows, he remains unnoticed by the general public. As I get older, and with the invention of the internet, I see world renown artists every once in a while that were friends with my mom and dad when I was a growing up. My parents worked for a gallery when I was a little kid and had openings often and were very involved in the world of art on the Monterey Peninsula.

My mom was a little bit more marketing savvy when it came to her artwork, when I was in high school we moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she always painted and stayed very true to her artistic aesthetic. Large abstract paintings with layers of watered down acrylic paint. She went to college in the 70s and got a Bachelor degree in Fine Art at San Jose State (California). She has taught art at many different times, while I was growing up. In the 70s she participated in several big art installations. One was a fence built by Christo and Jeanne Claude in Santa Rosa, California. After we moved to Santa Fe she discovered there weren’t any high quality artsy postcards of the Southwest. Most were made in the 1960s, in a tourist style. She decided to produce fine art postcards, that were thick card stock and quality printed photographs taken by her and a few photographers she met there. That was her side business, when I was a teenager; I often was recruited to help ship out these cards. We even moved back to California, when I was a sophomore in high school, so that she could distribute her cards and also sell posters from galleries in Santa Fe to bookstores and interior decorators in the San Francisco area, and up to Oregon.

At 16 years old I got a job in a restaurant. It seemed practical to me, I am a people person, I was 16 years old and there was rarely a lot of food at our house. My mom was a vegetarian, even a vegan, during this time, and I wanted to eat something more. There was also live music, at that restaurant in Marin County, all kinds of famous musicians; John Lee Hooker, Queen Ida, as well as members of the Grateful Dead would stop by. I spent more and more time there, working, as well as dancing on my breaks. I was a dishwasher.

What does all this have to do with Beyoncé and Blue Ivy? I am trying to explain how I got the idea that doing art was not a financially rewarding venture. Neither of my parents held “regular jobs” when I was growing up. To say money was tight would be an understatement. My mom inherited money, but we traveled, and it was used to fund her various artistic ventures. To save time and stick with the story, I should skip all of the reasons why I started working at around 14 years old and school took a back seat. Maybe they were too young when they had me, maybe they were both just self absorbed, but I didn’t get from either of them that school was important for me. We moved often, my mom and I, working was a way for me to feel more like a “normal person”.

I am not saying I wasn’t a creative person growing up, but I do think my parents were overly critical or judgmental of me. Maybe not even spoken directly to me, I think they thought being critical or judgmental was a sign of intelligence. Maybe as a reaction to their strict 1950s upbringing, they basically told me I could be and do “whatever I wanted to be”, that freedom left out discipline. I was in ballet, something that was undermined by moving a lot, or a lack of money. I have always known how to sew. Sewing seemed like a legit and necessary artistic pursuit to me. I was taught to embroider by a lady from Iran, who lived in the commune my mom and I lived in, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In my adult life I’ve had several jobs as a professional seamstress. I moved to Austin,Texas eventually, and was the “seamstress for the band”. I restore vintage clothing. So, other than working in restaurant, seamstress IS my other trade.

It wasn’t until my mom passed away that I felt comfortable with my own art, and started painting paintings. While working, I still don’t have time to do that as much as I would like. During the pandemic I was able to stay home and do some painting. My son was my roommate, and he makes a decent living, working in a grocery store. I got quite a bit of painting done. I know he also struggles with that creative/work balance. Something I never wished for him. I thought all of this time I was working so that he wouldn’t have to work so hard. Now it turns out we both work for the same very busy grocery store chain.

I saw a Prince interview recently where he is talking about-all artists’ love their music when they make it. ”Then you put it out there for Rolling Stone or Vibe to review, and you let that interfere with your thinking. But that’s because you are thinking, you should use your heart to create and let the mind be a filing cabinet.” Over the years, I haven’t taken criticism of my art well. I think I just took it as a confirmation, that it’s a futile pursuit.

It has come to my attention that my upbringing is why I have felt so moved by the dance that Blue Ivy does during the Renaissance tour.

I came about being awed by Beyoncé in a roundabout way. I follow the French Dancers “Les Twins”. The first time I saw them was 10 years ago, in a video suggested by Youtube, I was mesmerized. They have created their very own, super expressive, way of dancing. One of them, Larry, said in an interview one time, “we aren’t that limber, we are just up their throwing up our emotions” somehow the part where they are from France, but are interviewed in English, they come right to the point. There are so many reasons I adore them. Laurent, the more emotive of the two, he is a poet in motion. No words are needed. Larry, sometimes just seems to be along for the ride. But always surprises us with his own interpretation of whatever music they have chosen to dance to. There are other reasons I like them, besides the part where they started in the street and never compromise their style or aesthetic for anyone! Maybe I relate because I grew up with very little money. They were born in 1988, “8” is my lucky number; my son and I were both born on the 8th. They were born in the Year of the Dragon, so was I. When I used to do swing/rockabilly dancing, someone told me once I dance to the “front beat”, yet I had won that contest. But as I said above, I internalized that criticism. I thought it was unfounded, as I even lived with a bass player, that person couldn’t see that I was dancing to the whole song. That’s what Laurent and Larry Bourgeois do; they dance to the whole song.

Everyone knows who Beyoncé is right? Some stats from Wikipedia: “Having sold over 200 million records worldwide, Beyoncé is of the best selling artists of all time. Her accolades include 32 Grammy awards, 26 MTV Music Video Awards (including the 2014 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award). 24 NAACP Awards, 35 BET Awards, and 17 Soul Train Music Awards, all of which are more than any other artist in the music industry. Her success during the 2000s earned her recognition as the Recording Industry of America (RIAA)'s Top Certified Artist of the Decade and Billboard's Top Female Artist of the Decade. In 2014, Billboard named her the highest-earning black musician of all time. She is the most successful black touring act in history according to Pollstar, Time magazine included her as one of the 100 women who defined the 21st century.”

So, when it came on my radar that Les Twins dance “with” Beyoncé, as Les Twins say, not “for” Beyoncé. They adore her. I started listening to her music with an open minded ear. Despite having lived with a Blues/Rockabilly (roots, American) musician, I really like Hip Hop. Youtube started showing me interviews with her, being a child of the 70s, I like when she talks about making whole albums with a theme, not one hits, like so many people do now days. In her shows she uses a live band of amazing musicians. But when you mention her to others, oh boy, she does have some haters. Why? Why does she have haters? I’m not the first person to write about this, so I’ll let you look into that, if you want. I think how it relates to me is, that one thing they do, is show her having a crazy look on her face during interviews when she was young. Often she is listening to what they are asking, and their questions are enrobed in judgment, and her look (to me) is saying, that doesn’t have anything to do with our music and what we are doing. Or they are almost trying to bully some young girls, but she won’t have it. Now she just doesn’t do interviews, unless she is comfortable with the person interviewing her. I wish I had been that way, I wish my mom had given me the confidence to not internalize criticisms I was given as a young girl. I can still remember things grown men said to me when I was in my early 20s that affected me deeply and caused me to feel insecure about my creative pursuits. Beyoncé is the first person to tell you her mother, Tina, played an important role in helping her develop her dreams.

So, here we are, 2023.Coming out of the pandemic, the Les Twins started back slowly, doing some fashion shows, at 6 ft 4” they are handsome models. They have a lot of money; and are good with their finances, another reason to respect them. They are judges for various dance shows, one in Canada to be specific, and it’s in Canada they start traveling around to the schools via the “Kids Write Network” and linking mental health of young people to creativity. All of us that follow them, sometimes known as the “Les Twins Clique” love that, we love Les Twins. They convey so much in their dances without speaking.

There are hints that they will join Beyoncé on her upcoming world tour The Renaissance. Then it starts, first on May 10, 2023, in Stockholm, Sweden, the videos on Instagram and YouTube start right away. Everyone has a phone and is allowed to capture the tour and share it with us at home. It’s huge, stadiums full of 40,000 people; dressed in silver sparkly sexy clothes. It’s a celebration, not just of creativity and diversity, but that the pandemic is in our rearview mirrors. A much needed release. On May 23, the Paris show, Blue Ivy began joining Beyoncé onstage to perform choreography to "My Power" and "Black Parade”. For the rest of the tour, the air was pregnant with the question, will Blue Ivy appear for the My Power part…yes, she does! not always, but when she does, the crowd goes wild. They bring blue balloons to blow up and hold for her, signs that say “we love you Blue”. And for me it’s a very moving dance. She brings her out on stage, and I think some of the initial choreography looks like Les Twins trademark moves. She is showing her power. Now she puts her arms up like the girl in “Spy Kids”, then she puts her hands on her hips like Supergirl. One reason I think Les Twins influenced this choreography- they love animation, cartoons, superheroes. They often state these things inspire them. They are dancing superheroes. Then the songs “My Power” and “Black Parade” are also about being female, black and proud. If you look back on Blue Ivy’s limited exposure to the public, one video shows her taking traditional African dance classes, she excels, she is doing the work.

What is “Amari”,the dance coach for Bey’s dancers, saying to Blue in the intro? She is saying that she will protect her, as Les Twins come from the sides, and pretend to menace the young girl, she pushes them away and they run off. She is also saying this way of dancing is beautiful, while she proceeds to break into a South African Amaipano dance. On a positive thread one quote by a commenter “beautifulme1976”- “You also can tell she is taking it seriously, her and Amari playing off each other... Blue Ivy's Amapiano Dance Moves: Beyoncé's Daughter Shines!”

Then Beyoncé leaves, she leaves Blue in the capable hands of Amari, who is obviously so powerful and self confident, with her un-mainstream body shape, yet is the dance captain of a troop of dancers. Edit: I’ve seen Amari before in hip hop circles with Les Twins. She is beyond secure in her personal style. Now a “Manny” in the form of dancer Jonté Moaning comes to her side, with their fan, to also make Blue feel confident. But she doesn’t even need that, as her Dad watches proudly from the crowd with her younger sibling. She knows she is loved, and it doesn’t matter what all the haters are going to say about an 11 year old girl being part of such a major production, did I mention about 40,000 people are in that stadium.

Oh yeah, the haters are gonna hate, I see their comments on the YouTube videos, every stop of the tour produces several videos. I try not to look DOWN at their comments about a “devil dance”, etc. It’s like they don’t want anyone to be too proud or creative, because they aren’t either, proud nor creative, so they look down their noses at a secure little girl who is dancing in a huge production. Ironically, a huge production that is injecting quite a windfall of sales and hotel bed taxes to –major cities in the US, as much money as (according to one publication) the Olympics brought Beijing,China! Hypocrites, complain (Texas is trying to make a law) about people dressing in drag and cross dressers, while gladly taking that money for their city and state.

What I saw were parents that didn’t try and talk their daughter out of expressing herself. They lifted her up and told her they trusted her, AND they trust the people that work for them, as they leave no stone unturned when it comes to this huge production. Even making sure she is dressed appropriately for her age. She is incorporating South African and African dance into her “My Power/Black Parade” and the songs are about respecting their culture and all of it’s moving parts, including black owned business. Then Beyoncé comes back out with Les Twins on a vehicle and sings “Black Parade” with Blue at the front of the whole procession. Like a front line parade at Mardi Gras, creativity and family are celebrated, as well as many cultures, tendencies and ethnicities. For me some of it almost feels Egyptian, a modality Beyoncé has used before, but that, in itself, is powerful.

She is conveying strength, love and acceptance to her daughter and all the young people that are screaming in the audience being influenced by those ideas.

What have I’ve learned from watching Beyoncé and Les Twins and listening to interviews with them, why do I so relate to them? They go hard! I go hard too! To get what I want. I don’t compromise my aesthetic; I just need to own it. Also, I need to spend less time surviving, as I have done for the last 27 years, while raising my son, alone. And do my arts.

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About the Creator

Melissa Brown

I live in Austin,TX it takes a lot of work to live here. Seamstress for the band, I restore vintage clothes and accessories, I also paint and do collage. I was raised by Bohemian artists. I sell rock and roll stuff online at Myrockinheart

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