JaQuel Knight has made history as the first choreographer to copyright his iconic dance moves. In a giant stride to take creative control, Knight has launched Knight Choreography and Music Publishing Inc.
Knight shot to fame after crafting the moves in Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” video, since then, he has become her go-to, choreograph the artist’s tours and her epic Coachella performances. He has also masterminded the moves behind the Jennifer Lopez-Shakira 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” video.
“Copyrighting movement is about putting the power back in the artist’s hands,” Knight tells 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.”
The company will operate in the same way a music publisher does where it will broker licensing deals and protect IP, except rather than copyright music, Knight Choreography & Music Publishing will oversee the rights to Knights dance moves.
Additionally, the company plans to represent rights for a diverse range of choreographers and creatives across all genres and mediums, acting as their strategic partner in copyright, licensing and beyond as they change the landscape of the protections for choreographers, creatives and artists in the commercial music industry.
Issues of proper credit for dance moves arose recently when TikTok star Addison Rae received backlash for performing on “The Tonight Show” a series of dances popularized on the video platform and didn’t credit the mostly Black creators of the moves. Host Jimmy Fallon addressed the controversy on air the following night, telling viewers, “We recognize that the creators of those dances deserve to have their own spotlight” and inviting the influencers to perform the dances.
Knight will work in partnership with lawyer David Hecht, who helped secure the copyright for “Single Ladies,” and his manager, producer Mary Pelloni.
Last year, Knight served as creative director for Megan Thee Stallion’s virtual concert, but his career spans decades. The Atlanta-born dancer has worked with some of the top names in the business including Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger, Rihanna and Tinashe. But it was his work with Beyonce that put him on the map. He went on to win 2 MTV Awards for his work on 2016’s “Formation” which he shared with Chris Grant and Dana Foglia, and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008) which he shared with Frank Gatson Jr.