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

Vincent Paterson on Madonna - U Magazine / 1990

M: What was your concept — the feeling you’re trying to give to Blond Ambition?

V: The first thing Madonna said to me was: “I want you to break every rule you can think of, then when those are done, make up some more and break those too.” So that is how I went into the tour; with complete artistic freedom to do whatever the f*ck I wanted to do. And working with someone like her, she encouraged that. You know, she fans the flames. We had a few, a few minor discussions about places where she thought she didn’t want to go till I made her try it a couple of times. I think it was a little nervousness not having touched territories like that before. As far as the dance goes, we touch on everything from Voguing to hip hop to classical ballet. So a lot of the stuff she’s never done in front of the public before, some modern partnering work, lifts… She was a little nervous about it in the beginning. Twenty minutes later, she wasn’t. You know? But it was great, it presented a bit of a challenge to her and the whole entire situation of the time pressure made it a challenge to me. The other thing we wanted to do was to create a new presentation of concert work going into the nineties. And I think we’ve done that. The format is completely different. The show is one complete sequence. It never stops. We don’t do a song and wait for applause. Everything transitions the entire show until it’s done.

M: Are there a lot of clothing changes?

V: Oh, god, yeah. Well I’m not going to tel I you how. That’s I ike, uh, sort of telling you what’s in the Christmas box before Santa gets there. But there’s changes every song. Basically there’s some form of different costume change and there are many set changes. The show is divided into segments. Dance, heavy dance segment. Church section. A Dick Tracy section. And then another long dance section.

M: Have you seen anything from Dick Tracy? Any rough cuts? (interview was done in April before the movie opened).

V: Maybe, but not to me. I didn’t have time to see anything.

M: So your inspiration for the Dick Tracy segment?

V: Music. My history, my imagination.

M: Did you play with the color themes they use in the movie?

V: Just the yellow, that’s basically all.

M: So you went to Japan?

V: I went to Japan to start the tour. Tokyo.

M: How many cities did she do in Japan?

V: Three. She’s still there.

M: Oh, I thought everyone came back Monday.

V: They’re still doing it. The end of this week is Yokohamo. Three in Tokyo and then I came back. Three in Osaka, and three in Yokohamo. And then I’ll join her again in Houston because that (Japan) was all out-doors. So now I’ve got to restructure some of the stuff. They went on ramps. Ramps that extended out into the audience, which we don’t have at our venues. We do have people behind the stage at some, so I want to restage moments so that those people are included in the show. Lighting had to alter outdoors as opposed to the intensity of indoor lighting. And it’s the kind of show that is completely directed and choreographed, from the first moment to the last moment. So it’s not something that you can abandon. It’s sort of a cross between a Broadway show and a Rock concert, or something like that. It’s a pretty new animal and it’s not something I can just walk away from and abandon because it needs to have an eye come in regularly to find tune it.

M: Do you feel it’s going to change a lot as it goes across the U.S. like a Broadway show before it opens, or is it pretty much cleaned up in Japan?

V: No. It was clean for Japan. Now two weeks later go back and clean it up again for the States and then I’ll go to Europe and clean it up before the European leg. Uh, it’ not a really long tour. It’s only four months. Otherwise I’d probably be jumping back and forth a lot more than I have, and I’ll be in L.A.. And I will be following it along as it goes. But it can’t just be left o itself. Some of the images must be so clean to have the impact in which they were created. I can’t just let it go. The only part that will become it’s own is as the performers become more involved and more relaxed as performers, but that just happens by doing it in front of an audience.

Vincent Paterson on Madonna - U Magazine / 1990

M: Did you have a choice with the dancers?

V: No. She brought them in. She did one incredible job. It’s an eclectic group of guys. Some people have trained with Elliott Feld. Other people have done everything from company work to Las Vegas, and some of the kids are just from the streets and clubs. There’s seven guys and two girl backup singers who are also real incredible dancers. And then there’s one, two, three, four, five—six band members. The band is more like a Broadway Orchestra. They sort of create the soundtrack or score to the images that are created. It’s more about images and the music, than it is about watching the band get up and play.

M: So it’s kind of like a Broadway play. The orchestra is hidden?

V: Yeah, in that regard. A couple of pieces I bring them on a lot closer, but for the most part the entire stage is encompassed by visions. I just felt in this MTV life people are now becoming accustomed to having a vision created for a song. And I am that way as a director and choreographer anyway, and I figure, well I want to do the same thing here. I want every piece to be completely different than the last piece and every piece to be as strong as the one before or one after that. When you leave the theater and go home and play the music, I’m hoping that my images — the images that Madonna and I have created will even over ride the ones from the videos. That’s my dream of course.

M: Does Madonna talk about Dick Tracy at all?

V: No, she just was a little…

M: Was she scared?

V: No. She reacted like any other actress would react. She went and saw a rough cut and of course, you know seeing it that evening she was upset, as everyone is. You see it and say: “Oh my god, is that my work? I knew I did better takes than that.” I spoke to her that evening and the next day, I saw her and said: “So how do you feel about the movie today?” And she said: “I feel much better. I’m twelve hours away from it. I’m a lot more objective.” I think she feels pretty good. And word of mouth is she did an incredible job.

M: So you’re the choreographer and director?

V: Yeah.