A Beyoncé-inspired Australian dance school receives a letter from their hero. It was a threatening cease-and-desist letter.
Looks like Beyoncé is all about inspiring people — as long as she’s getting a cut. Lawyers for the pop heavyweight just sent a cease-and-desist letter to an Australian dance school named ‘Bey Dance’. That academy was inspired by the dance moves of Beyoncé, but Bey’s attorneys she it created too close of an association with the superstar.
Plus, they’re not paying Beyoncé, though that probably wasn’t mentioned in the letter.
It was back in 2012 that Bey Dance opened. These days, the school operates in several Australian provinces and aims to empower people of all shapes and sizes — just like Bey herself. Sounds like just the kind of fandom that entertainers want, but Beyoncé isn’t thrilled with the school.
Accordingly, the shrewd businesswoman swooped in to protect her brand.
ABC recently reported that Bey Dance Director Liz Calahan has received a cease-and-desist letter from Beyoncé’s Sydney-based lawyers. Calahan is now prohibited to use ‘Bey’ or ‘Beyoncé’ in the name of the school. Additionally, she cannot mention the music icon on social media posts or use her music in her classes.
Calahan was also forced to remove any mention of Beyoncé from the school’s website. Last, but not least: performing one of the superstar’s most iconic dance moves is a no-no, too.
Obviously, Calahan made those decisions to keep her academy alive. Despite sound legal arguments for the school’s naming and curriculum decisions, a fight against Beyoncé’s legal team was almost certainly a death wish. And, a great way to bankrupt her quickly-growing school.
All of which means no more Beyoncé bootylicious moves for the newly-renamed school.
“They said they could see what we were doing was out of complete admiration for Beyoncé’s work,” Calahan expressed. “But it could be damaging to Beyoncé’s brand because people might think we were affiliated with Beyoncé.”
To avoid any legal tussles and make Beyoncé’s attorneys go away, the school now carries a completely different name. Classes continue on, but the music playlists are now different. You can now dance to the music of Rihanna and Madonna.
Accordingly, the name of the dance school has been quickly changed to ‘The Cultmunity,’ with all references to Beyoncé scrubbed from the site.
Guess that’s what happens when Beyoncé’s lawyers roll into town. But Callahan also pointed out that she had drifted away from being Beyoncé-centered when the album Lemonade was released. The dance director explained that the album centered on the experience of African-American women, which made it hard for her to relate.
“A lot of my discomfort with the school really started when that Lemonade album dropped,” she said. “Not because I didn’t love the album and its message, but because it felt wrong for me to be claiming it. Here I am, a white Anglo-Celtic woman in Australia, that’s not my experience to share.”
So maybe this was a simple choice between risking the destruction of the school, or moving on to other icons.
Beyonce earned her a spot on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list for 2016. Her clothing line, the “athleisure” brand Ivy Park, and her investment in WTRMLN WTR, were cited as reasons for her inclusion on the list.