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Vincent Paterson on Blond Ambition Tour, Vogue, Madonna : U Magazine

M: Do you think besides her singing, a lot of people like her because she stands up for peoples rights to express themselves?

V: Oh, yeah. She’s done so much for AIDS. She’s an artist. That’s the difference. She’s not a recording star, which the rest of them are. She’s an artist. And that’s what sets her apart. And that’s what I think also makes her controversial and also gives her more freedom. Because she’s presented herself as an artist; musically, visually, cinematographically. Every aspect she pushes the limits on herself and pushes the buttons on everybody else who watches her, whether they are fans or not. I don’t think she has concerns about pleasing people. I think the most important thing is to be true to herself and what she believes in.

M: Looking at photos of Madonna since the the beginning of her career, she’s gone through so many changes, young, old, mannish, girlish. She seems to go back and forth. In person, do you see these changes?

V: No. She’s a lot of fun. She’s very real. I’ve worked with a lot of people in this business. She has the best grip on success that I ever acknowledged. I first noticed it actually when we were doing this Pepsi commercial. We shot a scene in a Catholic school in a hallway. It was Madonna amidst, maybe, twenty school girls that were from seven to thirteen years old. And you know, like, instead of going out to the trailer to hang, there was a little break, and she said: “Hey can you open up one of these classrooms?” They opened up a class-room and she took all the girls in there for a half hour and they all just sat and talked.

M: They all came out smoking cigarettes… (both laugh)

V: (laughing) She came out in a Catholic uniform… But she’s like that throughout this whole tour. She’s close to the kids, the dancers. She hangs out with them. Goes to the clubs with them. She’s really genuine.

Vincent Paterson on Madonna - U Magazine / 1990

M: So you went from Express Yourself to the Blond Ambition tour? Did you get involved with the Vogue video?

V: I came into the Vogue… Madonna had another choreographer involved in the project. She didn’t have a director. I was doing a couple of films at the time.

M: What films?

V: Havana with Sydney Pollack and another film that I left with Cannon Productions.

M: Havana ?

V: It’s with Robert Redford.

M: Is it a musical? What kind of choreography do you do?

V: It’s not a musical at all. It takes place in Havana during the five days of the Castro takeover and there was a lot of incidental movement that happens throughout party scenes. Everything had to be very real. I also wrote a scene that happens in a porno house. Sydney Pollack wasn’t happy with what was written, and asked me to come up with a different idea for this show that Robert Redford goes to watch with these cookies he picks up. I did that and I guess Madonna was having some artistic differences with the choreographer and asked if there was anyway I could get involved. At first I couldn’t. But she kept asking me and I finally said: “Okay, I’ll make it work out.” And we did. I came in the Tuesday before Vogue was to be shot on Friday. She and the guys had put a lot of movement together and I just basically cleaned it up for the video, and that was my involvement. But we do it in the show (Blond Ambition).

M: What about the rehearsal shown on MTV with Madonna wearing biking shorts. How similar is it to the concert?

V: The clothing is close to what we use because Gaultier gave Madonna a full rehearsal wardrobe for herself and all the dancers. The show’s all Gaultier with a few other things added here and there. Ninety-five percent Gaultier.

M: How did that come about?

V: When I became involved with the show, Gaultier was already doing the wardrobe, and her brother Chris had already designed the set; although I changed the formation of some of the sets, and she had sketches of a set list which I altered. Some of the things I changed completely because they didn’t inspire me or I just didn’t think they belonged in the show as it progressed. And I came into it and she said: “I need someone to take it in their hand and direct it, choreograph it, and make it happen. And then I have three weeks. I have eighteen days to do eighteen songs and then I have three weeks on the stage.” At which point I completely changed two pieces and slightly remolded some of the other pieces.

M: What happened with Vogue?

V: They had some pieces they had put together from the video; but if you look at the video there’s not much dancing really, and a lot of it’s just free style voguing. So, I took a bit of the images that they had, and incorporated them when I could, or when I thought they worked well on stage, but they were really done for film, and I built the rest of the piece around it. It’s really a statement not only of voguing but fashion runway work and voguing together, which is the way I see the piece.

M: So there was some movement when you came in?

V: No. There was no movement to it when I came in.

M: It’s interesting how VOGUE has been around for a couple of years and…

V: It’s been around longer that that. As a dance form it’s been around for a couple of years, but really it’s just from fashion. Fashion runway. So how long has fashion runway been around?

M: That’s what’s funny about Madonna. Malcolm Mclaren had a cult hit last year…

V: House of Vogue…

M: And then all of a sudden Madonna brings it to Middle America and turns it into a pop icon.

V: Right. Michael Jackson did the same thing with the Moonwalk. I mean the Moonwalk was around long before Michael Jackson got a grab on it. But it takes somebody like a Madonna or Michael Jackson to introduce it to the public. How many people do you know who go to dance clubs in middle America? Anybody over twenty-five, it just doesn’t happen. They really go to where the real dance is happening, that sets the trend for what is going to go on. So people may be a little familiar with or hear about it. But it takes a major superstar to introduce it to the public and say: “Take a looks at this. This is what’s happening.”