Paterson's shadow—most choreographers are rarely given a spotlight. (All images by Matthew Rettenmund)
I've been to countless talk-backs and Q&As and panels and book readings and other modes of presenting an artist who is presenting themselves to an interested audience, but I have to say that Dance Films Presents: An Evening with Vincent Paterson stands out as being among the best.
Paterson's coolest credit might be Zombie in “Thriller.”
Paterson has been central to an array of pop cultural touchstone moments—he was the adorbs gang leader in Michael Jackson's “Beat It” and choreographed Jackson's “Smooth Criminal” and his Bad Tour; he choreographed Madonna's Pepsi commercial and “Express Yourself” video, co-directed her Blond Ambition World Tour and conceived and choreographed that Marie Antoinette-themed “Vogue” performance on MTV and her first Oscars performance; he choreographed and appeared in Lars von Triers's Bjork-powered Dancer in the Dark; the list goes on.
Paterson's blond ambition was on view when he worked with Madonna on Evita. (Image is screenshot)
Big sister is watching you watching her!
With so many career highlights, the evening had promise, but it was Paterson's winning personality (and hysterically funny vocal impersonations of some of the stars he was citing) that made it fun, and the show's clever conception and structure by Joe Berger that made it consistently compelling. It was two hours long but breezed by, with Paterson cheerfully reporting on Madonna's initial bitchery, Michael's child-like approach to creativity, the unthinkable complexity of shooting Dancer in the Dark and losing out on a much-deserved MTV Award to—sniff—Paula Abdul.
Paterson applauded by Berger and the assembled dance junkies
Paterson's insights into dance and visual expression had the student-heavy audience captivated, with surprising left turns into his work in the fields of opera, German theater and Cirque du Soleil.
Paterson with Berger (directly above), and receiving kudos from family, friends and other admirers
Between short Q&A periods with Berger, who as with his MoMA Truth or Dare gig proved to be an effective and emotionally invested moderator, Paterson gave spirited readings from his forthcoming memoir, which you gotta believe is going to be a juicy read, based on the tidbits he offered. I mean, his descripton of Sophia Loren staring gape-jawed as Madonna sang with her back to the audience at the Oscars was worth the price of admission all by itself, and the guy shed genuine tears for the purity of a moment he shared with Jackson involving some Make-A-Wish kids.
What a treat for fans of—well—really anything.