Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce – Freedom, Flaws and All

Beyoncé has been releasing music literally for as long as I’ve been alive. Some of my earliest music related memories involve pretending to be Destiny’s Child (3) and singing along to ‘Survivor’ with my 2 sisters. When B’Day dropped, we played it top to bottom at our nightly dance parties; in secondary school, we would test our vocal abilities with Halo; as a shy teenager, I watched the TV in awe as Beyoncé performed End of Time;  I spent a lot of my first year of University trying to learn the dance moves to Flawless; in second year, I was seeing how many Formation’s it would take me to walk back from class; and when I was in my post-education/pre-employment slump, My Power made me feel like superwoman, even if only for 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

A few years ago, I finally realised what made seeing Beyoncé perform so appealing to me. My words? “She just looks so free.” Ironically, Beyoncé says it’s this tour that is about freedom for her- at 42 years old, 26 years in the business, with nothing to prove to anyone. 

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé is the Renaissance concert experience with a behind the scenes look at the process of bringing the concert to life. It is the most human I’ve ever seen Beyoncé, who included personal moments from being interviewed by her kids, to memories of her Uncle Johnny, to maintaining her health post-surgery in the documentary. Her 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, is also part of the heart in this film. Although that first clip of her dancing with her Mum online brought me to tears, many people had a lot of negative things to say about her dancing which this film reveals she actually saw. When asked about it, Blue says, “I see that the more I do it, the more I get better. So, at the last show, I’ll dance with everything I have.” And that’s exactly what she does- get better each time. For the futuristic robotic aesthetic attached to the Renaissance album and concert, the film shows that it was still very much flesh and bone behind it.

Honestly, that just makes the ‘freedom’ exhibited on stage more amazing to me. I was a kid who hated going to birthday parties because I didn’t want to be forced to participate in games; and in school, I would rush for the part of ‘narrator’ when we did plays. People thought it was because I liked reading (which I did) but it was really because I would rather bury my face in a page and force my voice through the words than act them out in front of an audience. I hated calling attention to myself even though I loved the arts, and as I got older, I realised that part of that was me being afraid to look dumb in front of people. So, watching Beyoncé put everything into some dance moves that maybe look awkward to do at first, or be a little silly on stage, or casually turn a technical malfunction into a fashion moment always makes me so inspired- not only to get better at my craft or to work hard, but to just be free enough to look stupid and even to be wrong. Doing that removes the inhibitions that keep us from trying, and when we do, just like Blue, we see that we do get better as time goes on.

And sometimes, it’s just a lot of fun.

This album and tour are also in honour of Beyoncé’s Uncle Johnny, and by extension, the LGBTQ+ community. Uncle Johnny, who was a gay man, would play Beyoncé and her sister music which was a part of 80s ballroom culture- music which inspired this album. He’s no longer here, but with Renaissance, Beyoncé aims to create a safe place for members of this community who have maybe been ostracized by society. Knowing this, and that a lot of the participants of early ballroom culture were people who had been disowned, abandoned, or discriminated against made Beyoncé opening the show with Flaws and All – a song about being loved unconditionally -an emotional moment for me.

How many of us have longed for that? How often do we give it? And how many of us, having been given it, find it so hard to receive? There’s a freedom that comes from there as well, one I know I haven’t always felt even though I know in my head that God loves like that. I’ve always felt like I need to get myself together to go to God and that there is no room for me to make mistakes, which makes me carry a lot of fear. Believing that no matter how dumb I might look, or even how wrong I might be, I am completely loved and covered allows me to be my full self with others and with Him so He can do His work.

I’ve spent my 26 years knowing, forgetting and re-learning how to rest in that unconditional love, but I hope and pray that I’m able to believe it, receive it and give it freely each day I’m here.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce is in theatres now.

One thought on “Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce – Freedom, Flaws and All

  1. Beyonce has always been a symbol of strength and freedom to girls everywhere. The desire to be acknowledged for my craft and be unapologetically free is something I genuinely admire in beyonce and is something I strive to be. Great write up

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