In Bed and On Tour With Madonna



"Camera reloading!" was the phrase that always surprised me. It's amazing how quickly I forgot the cameras were rolling, or even in the room.

The silent men in black hovered at every turn, in every corner, at every prayer session. On the first leg of Madonna's Blond Ambition tour in Japan, I was mugging for the camera and trying so hard to be cool as only a 20-year-old can. Madonna had resisted the intrusive filming at first but, like the rest of us, came to see the film crew as part of the entourage, just like the musicians and bodyguards. The crew entered a room with a smile and a subtle nod, then like ninjas, they crouched in corners or simply froze, becoming part of the interior.

The filming of Truth or Dare happened so organically that it resembled a friendship unfolding. In Texas, during the second month on camera, director Alek Keshishian began conducting personal interviews with us. The questions were frank and challenging. My fellow dancer Gabriel Trupin had gone in before me and was visibly shaken when he came out. After seeing he was upset, I was guarded in my responses, but honestly, I didn't have that much to say of interest at the time. My life until then had been mostly about schools and essays — I didn't have much insight into life to share. I didn't imagine Madonna would be sitting in front of a TV watching me later, but of course she saw all of our interviews. It was one more way for her to get to know us, to know our stories, to see us when we weren't in front of Madonna, the icon.

The first test had taken place months earlier. When Madonna's brother Christopher first called to hire me as associate choreographer, I was stunned, because although I had flipped, popped, whacked, trooped, locked, and Roger Rabbit-ed my heart out, I didn't think I had impressed her at the audition. A few days later Madonna told me to meet her at Club Louie, a tiny little dive run by Steve Antin where they played hot house music. We were about to spend months together; she wanted to know if I could hang. Ten minutes in we were dancing and sweating as if we did it every weekend. I felt like I had been time-warped to the set of Desperately Seeking Susan and the “Into the Groove” scene. I found out she had done the same with the other dancers. I was oblivious to being observed, but I guess my joy of dancing passed the test. She wanted to know who I was when dancing in the dark, offstage. It was smart of her, clever, cool, human. She watched us constantly from day one to see our interactions, group dynamics. She knew her kids.

Tags: Music