September 17, 2016

Making Dance Moves for Madonna, Michael Jackson and AIDS Awareness

This article originally appeared in POZ.

To be totally honest, I did not know who Vincent Paterson was until recently. But being a true-blue Madonna fan, I decided to attend An Evening With Vincent Paterson: An Intimate Conversation With the Legendary Director and Choreographer. You see, he worked on Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour, the basis of her Truth or Dare documentary, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and hence the reason for the Dance Films event with Paterson at the SVA Theatre in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

I became aware of this while researching the recent POZ cover story “Live to Tell: ‘Truth or Dare’ dancers disclose living long-term with HIV.” Knowing very little about choreography and dance, I was curious to hear what Paterson would say. He did not disappoint, even bringing up the topic of HIV/AIDS.

Before I get to that, boy do I ever feel stupid for not knowing his name—or face—because his work has permeated my life. He and his friend Michael Peters played the switchblade-dueling gang leaders in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video. Peters, I learned, choreographed that video, as well as “Thriller.” Paterson played a zombie in that legendary work and went on to choreograph (and direct) “Smooth Criminal.” He also did choreography for Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and “Vogue” videos and the movies Evita, The Birdcage and the Björk vehicle Dancer in the Dark. The list goes on and on.

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