New York (AFP) – Beyonce dominated the MTV Video Music Awards as she won a near-record award haul and awed the audience with a fiery dance medley with an unstated political message.
The pop superstar won Video of the Year for “Formation,” the most controversial work of her career, as she took home eight of the 11 awards for which she was nominated.
“Formation,” the first single off her intertwined film and album “Lemonade,” was shot in New Orleans and inspired by the city’s Creole culture, its bounce hip-hop scene and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“I dedicate this award to the people of New Orleans. God bless you guys,” Beyonce told the gala at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Beyonce stole the spotlight by performing for more than 16 minutes songs from “Lemonade,” managing even to change outfits in a set that culminated in the stage erupting in fire.
In one of the most striking moments, a series of gun-shots rang out as her dancers, in angelic white dresses, each dropped to the ground in a red fog.
The video for “Formation,” directed by Melina Matsoukas, had offered solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality with officers portrayed raising their hands as if under arrest.
Beyonce invited to the show, broadcast to more than 120 countries, the mothers of four young African American men whose deaths have galvanized the United States — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.
Martin, 17, was killed in 2012 by a white neighborhood guard, a catalyst moment for Black Lives Matter. Brown, Garner and Grant were all killed by law enforcement.