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Beyonce Reveals a Revolutionary Performance

22nd July 2011

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On May 22 2011, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas played host to the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, a ceremony presented by leading American music magazine, Billboard.  Much like the Grammy’s, the Billboard Music Awards is a prestigious ceremony that celebrates the work of recording artists from America and around the world.  The event is duly recognised as one to watch for the fans, and one to dominate for the artists.  Needless to say, the stars were out in all their glory and they do not come much better than Beyoncé Knowles who was there to receive the prestigious Billboard Millennium Award as well as performing the first instalment from her forthcoming album, ‘4’, the hit single ‘Run the World (Girls)’. 

At first Beyoncé is heard but not seen, an air of mystery and wonder instantly fills the performance arena, and, no doubt, the viewers at home.  We hear her preaching about the power of women, their energy and drive by declaring this moment as the beginning of a revolution – the ‘B Revolution.’  However, this preaching was much more than an ego trip for her inner diva ‘Sasha Fierce.’ It has become an outlet for sharing her feminist principles.  Through her work as an international recording artist, Beyoncé seeks to develop the role of women as a symbol of power.  By way of example, a lion’s head boldly appears on the large LCD screen which is located upstage.  With ferocious fangs and a bold mane, the lion is the ultimate power symbol – or is it?  After much anticipation Beyoncé finally emerges - centre stage in a wide stance with hands to hips.  In this single, stand-alone position, she embodies the bold image of the lion.  Back to the screen, the lion disappears but in its place an army of women appear, in unison they march, they salute. 

This signals an interaction between live performance and visual projection where power and artistry really take hold. With oversized angel wings which flap both sides of her, Beyoncé pulls them in towards her so that they jointly unite and break mutually.  Next, she mimics the action of beating drums which invade her personal space in a circle, which surrounds her ‘essence.’ Of course she is not actually holding drumsticks but the clarity of the projection and ingenuity of the concept is so sharp, that movement and technology combine to become a powerful entity.  Beyoncé continues on her theme of power with a sequence of Utopian imagery.  This is shown as she levitates a globe with the palm of her hands and equally, when building the blocks of a skyscraper city.  Here she ‘lifts’ the construction whilst boldly declaring: ‘my persuasion can build a nation’.  It is as if enchantment surrounds her spirit and her hands consists of the magic of the fictional and heroic character, “superwoman.”  Interestingly, Beyoncé seems to be hinting at how all women can hold power just as easily as she does through her manipulation of animated images – a touching idea really but whether it can be achieved is another reality.  Still, Beyoncé shows how creativity provides the outlet for power, how music and dance can unite women around the world and celebrate their being equal or greater power than men.     

Talking of singing and dancing, Beyoncé dazzled in this high-energy performance with stunning ad-lib vocals and a whole lot of "booty-shakin".  With a mass of female bodies stamping and saluting behind her, Beyoncé leads this army of empowered women into the song’s final chorus sections.  The women perform grounded movement including isolations, undulations, juts and sways which suggest a hip-hop/African style.  Through this performance, Beyoncé’s message becomes loud and clear – there is power in a woman and that power is truly realised through music and dance.  These women are confident, sexy, liberated but this is not something exclusive to Beyoncé and her virtuosic performance at the Billboard Music Awards, all women can possess this sense of fulfilment.  Beyoncé holds power and conviction and made the audience believe without and beyond doubt that we can too. 

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