Helping Madonna Hit Her Marks

June 20, 2004
From the NY Times

 Who can a star rely on to create a spiritually enlightened, Pilates - inspired, military - saluting, career - extending international road show? Jamie King has created pop spectaculars for Prince, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Still, directing and choreographing Madonna's Reinvention Tour, which opened here late last month, made all his previous assignments look easy. By the time it completes its three - month run, with 55 concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe, it is expected to gross 0 million.
 Mr. King, 32, has worked with Madonna since she asked him to choreograph her video for 'Human Nature' in 1996. He recently talked with Valerie Gladstone.

 VALERIE GLADSTONE Describe how you and she come up with ideas.
JAMIE KING We've been working together for a long time, so we don't have to go through the whole introductory process. it's more like 'Jamie, I saw this Ninja movie, and it was cool, and it might be cool to do something like that on tour.' Or, 'My kids have been watching 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' maybe we could do something like the dance with bamboo sticks from that as a transition into 'Get Into the Groove.' '
GLADSTONE What happens when you disagree?
KING We had one major disagreement. Only a few weeks ago, I told her I thought she should replace a song she had already relearned with "Material Girl." She'd spent a lot of time learning the other song on the guitar. She'd also said publicly that she would never sing "Material Girl" again. So I had to convince her that it was a bigger hit and worked much better at the end of a particular sequence.
GLADSTONE Were you worried that the song wouldn't go over?
KING If the audience hadn't responded enthusiastically, I'd never have heard the end of it.
GLADSTONE What did you do after choosing the 12 dancers?
KING I set up four rooms in the Culver City Studios: the band room where Madonna worked on the songs with the musical director and the musicians; the choreography room where we developed the dances; the technical room, where I had the theatrical props, like the swings for the acrobatic dances. That's also where we rehearsed the fire handling and rifle choreography and skateboarding.
 In another room, I had the entire stage taped out to scale with mock screens and elements of the set, all made of wood. Madonna wants to know exactly what everything will actually look like in materials as close to the finals as possible.
GLADSTONE The show has a variety of dance styles: tango, popping, a Scottish bagpipe procession and something called the krump. What's the krump?
 KING Madonna likes me to bring her the newest thing. The krump is very in - your - face, very angry and confrontational, with the arms spread wide in a threatening manner. My dancers told me about it. It looks like you're fighting. it's a way for kids in tough neighborhoods to express their aggression, without really fighting. That's what she and I like about it.

News Archives