LOOK: Madonna in Manila — as rebellious as it gets

Madonna's concert at MOA Arena, February 24, 2016 (MB Photo/Jun Arañas)

These were her “sins”: Swearing out loud, climbing and hanging upside down from a cross, draping the National Flag over her shoulders, sexually suggestive dancing, seemingly strangling a dancer dressed as a priest on stage, having dancers as nuns cavorting in revealing clothes as well as a female dancer that must’ve had a wardrobe malfunction, and, oh, starting her set almost three hours past the show time printed on tickets and performing mostly recent materials than the old chart toppers.

Bad, bad Madonna. Classic Madonna.

The pop diva caused a commotion at the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA) February 24 in kicking off the two-night series of the Manila leg (the 70th stop) of her “Rebel Heart Tour” that’s been to North America and Europe, then to Oceania after Asia. As if purposely thumbing nose at convention—and at a warning by the Philippine Catholic bishops that her show is “the devil’s work,” as worded in an AFP article—Madonna lived up to the title of her show, alright; sans apology and certainly without attrition.

It’s the attitude she’s worn on her sleeves throughout the tour and, one may say, for her entire career. It’s the persona her Filipino fans had been waiting to see live for months on end since the Manila leg was announced and those 57-thousand-peso tickets were bought, if not for more than three decades since she burst into the scene.

“Manila! Are you with me?” were Madonna’s very first words to the concertgoers some 10 minutes into the show which she was quoted in a Macomb Daily article as a “characteristically theatrical spectacle.” The crowd roared back lustily like there was no tomorrow, never mind if that fell on a holiday which it did (the 30th anniversary of the People Power Revolution) at midnight, mid-way through the presentation that ended almost at 1 a.m.

Madonna's concert at MOA Arena, February 24, 2016 (MB Photo/Jun Arañas)

Like in the other legs of the tour, Madonna’s repertoire was categorized into four themed acts: “Joan of Arc/Samurai,” “Rockabilly meets Tokyo,” “Latin/Gypsy,” and “Party/Flapper.” Though all eyes were focused on the multi-hyphenate artist, there were actually four stories going on simultaneously most of the times and these were being told in the sequence of the songs, in the visuals on the video walls, in the choreography and in the synergy thereof.

Amid the alakazam of high production value glossed by the latest technology, the relatively quiet numbers were those that roused the attendees. In fact, “Like A Prayer” (till the middle part), “True Blue” and “Who’s That Girl” had Madonna just accompanied by a guitar and a ukulele. The other familiar hits from her humongous discography that ended up on the set list were musically rearranged almost to the point of being unrecognizable; as if the artist was testing her audience if they would still love those even without the familiar trimmings.

Filipinos who are used to hearing many cover songs in live performances just got two from Madonna on the first night. These were “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” originally recorded by Ross Royce and also found in the Queen of Pop’s “Like A Virgin” album; and “La Vie En Rose,” the signature song of French popular singer Edith Piaf. (Well, there’s another—the chorus of “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone—which Madonna sang impromptu en acapella and more as a joke after noting there didn’t seem to be a sea of light emanating from mobile phones at the venue. Did the people forget to charge their batteries, she asked tongue-in-cheek).

After acknowledging in the latter part of the show that she doesn’t go “to this part of the world much often,” Madonna thanked her Filipino fans for the support they’ve been giving her as professional music artist for more than 30 years now. She also bantered with the audience (some of whom were foreigners), and even picked a guy in female attire to dance with her onstage.

The giant cross-shaped stage with a smaller heart-shaped stage at the tip is a design specific for the tour. It’s the same one fans have seen in other countries where the tour has had stops. Most of the props, if not all, were flown into Manila from Macau on Monday aboard a chartered plane.

Read more at https://www.mb.com.ph/look-madonna-in-manila-as-rebellious-as-it-gets/#V4Wh5eHe8pg4FQ6R.99

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REVIEW | Madonna: a true rebel with a heart

For her grand entrance Madonna descended onto the stage in a cage from high up in the ceiling. For her exit two and a half hours later she ascended back to the air while singing her very first hit, “Holiday.” (That it was already past 1 o’clock in the morning of February 25, a real holiday, made the entire number even more surreal than it was.)

In between those bookends was a show that many if not most in the audience will not soon forget. Not only because “Rebel Heart Tour” was the first-ever live performance of the Queen of Pop in the Philippines but also because it was a spectacle of the highest order.

The stage alone was already worth a big fraction of the cost of admission. (Apparently it’s worth a big fraction of the cost of production, too.) It had a massive backdrop composed of three giant led screens that showed fantastic video images to accompany the live performances. It also had a long cross-shaped ramp, with a heart-shaped tip, that practically extends to the other end of the orchestra section. And scattered throughout the stage are 7 hydraulic lifts that serve as entry and exit points for Madonna and her dancers.

The niftiest feature of the stage, though, is a big panel at the very center that has different functions. Sometimes it’s a vertical led wall, sometimes it’s an angled slide, sometimes it’s a flat platform. There simply hasn’t been anything quite like it on the local concert stage.

The sets and props were also sights to behold. They include a car shop set-up, a swirling staircase (that came from and went back up to the ceiling, for a single number at that), a Last Supper table, and several wildly bending poles that hoisted dancers some 20 feet in the air.

So how was the performance that the stage hosted? Madonna showed why she is the grande dame of pop concert artists. Her terpsichorean days as a dancer may be behind her — gone are the complex choreographies and nimble athleticism even of her last tour, MDNA — but her full commitment and her dowager-like command of the stage remain fully intact. There is still a whole lot of movement throughout the show, including hanging upside down from a horizontal rod and pole dancing, that will certainly tax performers half her age If they ever decide to put in that much effort.

The singing was surprisingly good especially for someone who is still derided for her vocal talent. Madonna now has a low, rich, full voice that was showcased fully in the show’s many slow and stripped down numbers. These include acoustic renditions of “True Blue,” “Who’s That Girl,” the French classic “La Vie En Rose,” and “Like A Prayer,” the chosen “request” song of the night that brought the house down and was one of the set’s highest highlights.

The biggest difference and main surprise of Rebel Heart from her previous tours is how unrigid Madonna is. Where there was a roboticness and remoteness in previous treks there is now playfulness and enjoyment. Whereas before she seemed to be working hard to give her audiences a grand time, it now seems that she is having a grand time herself. In fact there were a few times in last night’s show where she was very in-the-moment spontaneous, including singing a couple of lines a capella from the “West Side Story” song “Maria” for the audience member named Zoreena who caught the bouquet that she threw during a spiel following “Material Girl.”

Thematically the Rebel Heart Tour continues to tread on the now very familiar themes of sex and religion that have been a major part of the Madonna canon since day one. And it may be easy to charge her with “reductionism” (look up “Madonna reduction” online) of her own work especially if you take such numbers as “Holy Water” and “S.E.X.” on their own and on the surface, but that would be missing the new context she is working on. She may still be firing up and fanning the same flames (the rebel half of the show) but she’s now doing it within the framework of love (the heart part).

That’s pointedly clear when she follows up the salacious, nuns-in-undies-dancing-on-steel-cross-stripper-poles-pupulated, Last Supper-alluding “Holy Water” with the haunting plea for spirituality “Devil Pray” and its picture of a sinful woman searching for forgiveness and redemption from various men of the cloth (Catholic, Hindu, Islam to mame just some represented in the number). And when “S.E.X.” features four sets of couples of different persuasions (straight, gay, lesbian) that turn into some sort of orgy in the end. That’s inclusiveness and acceptance that’s very now.

And that’s Madonna version 3.0 for you — a true rebel with a heart.

Read more at Interaksyon

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Philippine bishops say Madonna concert is devil’s work

Philippine Catholic bishops called Wednesday on the faithful to boycott pop diva Madonna’s sexually charged concerts in the nation’s capital, calling them the devil’s work.
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MANILA: Philippine Catholic bishops called on Wednesday (Feb 24) on the faithful to boycott pop diva Madonna’s sexually charged concerts in the nation’s capital, calling them the devil’s work.

The 57-year-old Like A Virgin and Erotica hit-maker is scheduled to cavort on a giant cross-shaped stage during two concerts on Wednesday and Thursday as part of her global Rebel Heart tour.

“Pinoys (Filipinos) and all God-loving people should avoid sin and occasions of sin,” Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said in a statement posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ official website.

Full article HERE

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Madonna visits children at Bahay Tuluyan Foundation

A day before her scheduled concert on Wednesday night, pop culture icon Madonna visited and spent time with the kids of Bahay Tuluyan Foundation in Manila earlier Tuesday afternoon.

Catherine Scerri, deputy director of the nongovernmental children’s rights organization, said the American singer-songwriter arrived at 2 p.m. and stayed for close to an hour.

“She watched a little dance number prepared by the children, and then ended up dancing with them, too,” Scerri told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “The children were very happy and enjoyed their time with Madonna,” Scerri said.

On her Instagram account, Madonna posted a photo of her with three children under the organization’s care. “Chillin’ with my homies at the Bahay Tuluyan Foundation, giving shelter to orphans street children trafficking abuse victims in Manila,” Madonna wrote.

Scerri described the meeting “private and casual,” with Madonna accompanied by around 20 people, including some of her dancers.

“They reached out to us yesterday. Initially, we thought it was only her dancers who will go. We found out that Madonna was also coming today,” Scerri said, adding that Madonna asked her about how the foundation works.

“We discussed the situation of the children and how we help them,” she said.

Madonna, one of the bestselling artists of all time, is currently in the country for a two-night show at SM Mall of Asia Arena, on Feb. 24 and 25, as part of her ongoing “Rebel Heart” world tour.

The Manila leg is presented by promoter Music Management International. TVJ

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Madonna sneaks into PH days early to hit the beach

Pop superstar Madonna slipped into the country quietly through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) at 2 a.m. Monday for her two-day concert in Manila in support of her 13th studio album “Rebel Heart.”

The four-time Grammy winner’s arrival aboard a chartered Boeing 752 was kept under tight wraps with airport workers strictly prohibited from taking pictures and videos with their mobile phones.

The team of customs, immigration and quarantine officers dispatched to the parked aircraft at remote parking area 21 of Naia Terminal 1 to process Madonna’s papers were told not to bring mobile phones on board.

The ground handler of the chartered flight had reportedly requested “utmost confidentiality” on Madonna’s arrival for her SM Mall of Asia Arena concert on Feb. 24 and 25.

A Naia source, who requested anonymity, said Madonna arrived days before her concert to go to Amanpulo in Palawan, the premier resort visited recently by American business magnate Bill Gates and  Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Madonna, whose full name is Madonna Louise Ciccone, flew to Manila after her concert in Macau.

Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” worldwide tour, a total of 82 shows, will end on March 20 in Sydney, Australia.  Her two-day concert in Manila is part of the 13-show Asian leg.

The Queen of Pop is considered the best-selling female recording artist of all time, with 300 million records sold worldwide. She is also the top touring female artist of all time, according to Billboard, which ranks her second to the Beatles in its hot 100 all-time top artists.

She was also included in Time Magazine’s  “25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century” and is in the American cable TV network VH1 list of  “100 Greatest Women in Music.”

Madonna also earned acting acclaim when she won a Golden Globe for her role in the film version of the musical “Evita.”

Read more: https://entertainment.inquirer.net/190673/madonna-sneaks-into-ph-days-early-to-hit-the-beach#ixzz40ymX95tZ
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Singapore archbishop warns flock against Madonna concert

Singapore’s Roman Catholic archbishop has expressed concern at an upcoming concert by pop diva Madonna in the city-state and warned his flock against supporting those who “denigrate and insult religions”.

Archbishop William Goh said in a statement posted on the diocese website on Saturday that he had various government officials to express the church’s concerns about the February 28 concert, part of her global Rebel Heart Tour.

The concert, at the 55,000-seat National Stadium, will be Madonna’s first-ever in largely conservative Singapore.

She was barred from performing in in 1993 after police said her performances bordered on the obscene and were “objectionable to many on moral and religious grounds”.

Goh said that in a multi-ethnic society like Singapore “we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favour of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one’s religion”.

Authorities have assured the archbishop that restrictions have been placed to ensure that content deemed offensive to religious beliefs would not be allowed on stage, the church statement said.

The Media Development Authority has restricted the concert to those aged 18 and above because of sexual references.

Local media reports said Madonna would not be performing a controversial tour segment called Holy Water, which includes dancers dressed as scantily-clad nuns performing on cross-shaped stripper poles.

The church statement said many Roman Catholics have voiced outrage at Madonna’s “disrespectful use of Catholic and other Christian symbols” in her performances.

“There is no neutrality in faith; one is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in is itself a counter-witness,” the archbishop said.

He warned his flock against supporting “the ‘pseudo arts’ that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography (and) contamination of the mind of the young”.

Some Catholics said they supported the archbishop’s decision and would not attend the concert.

Student Kevin Koh, 24, said he would not go but would not pass judgement on fellow Catholics who attend.

“Singapore as a society has to start being open to these things because we can no longer live in our own shells,” he told AFP.

Some online comments were critical, with one commentator saying the faithful should be allowed to make their own decisions.

Read more at BusinessStandard

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Berlin Review: Moving Documentary ‘Strike A Pose’ Catches Up With Madonna’s ‘Blond Ambition’ Dancers

There is something eternally fascinating about survival stories — not necessarily the ones that involve Robert Redford on a sinking boat orSandra Bullock in a leaky spacecraft, but real survival stories, of people going on with their lives after the sometimes brief period that defined them. That fascination is multiplied, shaded with regret, nostalgia, and maybe even bitterness, when those defining moments involved youthful beauty, a physicality that time has eroded, or at least changed. Ester Gould and Reijer Zwann‘s crowd-pleasing, where-are-they-now-style documentary catches up with the troupe of dancers from Madonna‘s 1990 “Blond Ambition” tour, several of whom were subsequently featured in her then-controversial movie “Truth or Dare,” as well as the iconic video for “Vogue.” Of the seven — Slam,Kevin, Carlton, José, Luis, Gabriel, and Oliver (the straight cuckoo in this gay nest) — not all survived. Some contended with HIV/AIDS, some had to overcome addiction or homelessness, but all shared a unique and life-altering experience: a moment on the crest of a wave of fame that, with the arrogance of youth, they believed would last forever. Right until it crashed.

Actually, their time orbiting the biggest star in the world, just at the point at which she went supernova, was short, really only lasting from the beginning of the tour to the fallout following the 1991 release of “Truth or Dare.” The film, with its spontaneous gay kiss between Gabriel and Slam, became the subject of a lawsuit when Oliver, Kevin, and Gabriel sued Madonna for, essentially, involuntarily outing them. It’s a bitter moment that in retrospect takes on an almost matricidal air (they frequently refer to Madonna in maternal terms), as though it were a premeditated plan to cut the apron strings. It wasn’t, of course, and but it did abruptly sever their connection to the Queen of Pop. It feels somewhat ruefully moot now, when all of them now acknowledge their intense pride in inspiring a generation of gay people just then coming to terms with their sexuality in an environment less enlightened than today’s.

READ MORE: ‘Fire At Sea’ Takes Golden Bear At Berlin Film Festival, Mia Hansen-Love Wins Best Director, And More

Oliver, the self-confessed former homophobe despite his fondness for flamboyant clothing (“How can you be a homophobe? You look like a parrot” Luis remembers thinking) is now married, works in a restaurant, and the right hand side of his face sags slightly as a result of Bell’s Palsy, which he and his wife explain good-naturedly in one of the film’s most unexpectedly endearing moments. Jose lives with his boyfriend in a room of his adored mother’s apartment: he cries when she reminds him of the house she thought he’d one day buy her. Slam confesses to a secret he has held close since 1987, Carlton talks openly about his HIV-positive status, Luis refers to his heroin addiction: not one of them fails to understand just how young and naive they were when this whirlwind hit.

"Strike A Pose"
Linda Posnick

But neither would any of them exchange the memory of that period for anything, and most have remained connected to the dance world in one capacity or another. This contributes to the film’s loveliest sequence, where we cut between each of the men performing today: in contrast to the crisp bravado of the moves that made them famous, their short routines are elegiac and slow, scored to an delicate instrumental track rather than a pop hit, often performed in silhouette or near-darkness — a rather lovely metaphor for a graceful withdrawal from the limelight.

Otherwise, Gould and Zwann’s film runs along perhaps too familiar and formal lines to have too many tricks up its sleeve: it establishes a rhythm of switching between the dancers individually in their post-fame lives, that we just know must end with a reunion. Yet that does not rob the inevitable meeting of its simple, sweet power, and the gentle revelations, mellowed with time, that punctuate the excited chatter are truly moving. Yes, the contrived nature of the situation contributes to a performative feel, but these men are all performers, and their interactions are no less authentic and sincere for being self-consciously dramatic.

There is also the palpable air, hanging over that dinner table, that some or maybe all of them secretly hoped that Madonna herself would make an appearance. Because aside from their personal stories, “Strike A Pose” also functions as an examination of the halo effect of fame, and what happens when the flame moves on and leaves you behind. Despite Luis’ more philosophical take (“She doesn’t owe us anything… and we became who we are because of us, not her”), Madonna is the film’s structuring absence. As a result, some noticeable omissions (we never see the “Vogue” video, for example, and concert footage is used more sparingly that you might expect), while possibly rights-based, also feel thematically appropriate.

Indeed, a deus-ex-machina last-minute appearance by the star would have thrown the whole center of gravity of the film off, because it’s not about her, it’s about life after her. And that’s how “Strike a Pose,” despite the melancholy nature of some of the stories, becomes such an uplifting survival tale. “At the time any one of us would have taken a bullet for any one of the others,” declares Oliver definitively, but there’s not always a hail of gunfire handy in which to prove your mettle: mostly it’s how you persevere in the absence of drama that really tells you who you are. [B]

Read more at Indiewire

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MADONNA SHOWS A HIT IN ‘REMARKABLE’ MACAU

Thousands of Madonna fans converged on the Studio City Event Center (SCEC) over the weekend to see the Queen of Pop’s two debut performances in Macau as part of her worldwide “Rebel Heart Tour.”
The Times attended Saturday’s concert, which started at 10.35 p.m. in the crowded 5,000-seat SCEC. Madonna performed some of her all-time hits, including “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” and the lead songs from her Rebel Heart album.
During a pause between acts, Madonna sat on the stage and said to the audience: “I’ve never been anywhere quite like Macau before; it’s remarkable and it is special. It feels intimate and grand. It feels small and it feels… not small.”
Madonna’s Saturday performance in Macau also featured a surprise entrance from Hong Kong Cantopop singer Eason Chan, who took to the stage and danced alongside the musical legend. Madonna uttered, “Oh shit!” to roars of applause, as Chan fell over while dancing. Madonna ended Saturday’s concert in Cotai wrapped up in a Macau flag, as she did in HK with the Bauhinia jacket.
According to a press release issued by Melco Crown, Madonna’s two performances attracted numerous Asian celebrities, including Aaron Kwok, Miriam Yeung, Charlene Choi, Christy Chung and award-winning actress Carina Lau. Also present were celebrated couples Simon Yam and Qi Qi, and Leo Ku and Lorraine Chan.

 

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read more at MacauDailyTimes

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Madonna crew to make Filipinos crazy for her

AT AGE 57, Madonna seems to have done everything, imaginable or otherwise, in her 36-year career.

But for her current “Rebel Heart” tour, the Queen of Pop is pulling out all the stops to give her fans, including Filipinos, a show they will remember for a long time.

Staggering are the details involved in the production of Madonna’s tour, cited by Forbes magazine as “the most expensive” of 2015, and which rolls into Manila on Feb. 24 and 25 at SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena:

More than 2 million Swarovski crystals adorn Madonna’s costumes, whose seven designers include Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Alexander Wang, Fausto Puglisi, Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Nicolas Jebran, MiuMiu and Prada.

Over 1,000 wardrobe pieces are required for all the performers on stage, 500 pairs of shoes have been custom-made, and more than 200 pairs of fishnets will be worn by Madonna when the tour ends, with 60 people dressing, sewing and adjusting the costumes night after night.

While the audience are watching the show, some 2 million LED pixels will light up the rear screens on stage, with 63,500 kilograms (140,000 pounds) of lights, sound and video equipment in use for each night’s performance. The movable stage ramp alone weighs 24,970 kg (55,000 lb).

Comprising Madonna’s advance party are more than 100 crew members, who are due to arrive in Manila today to start mounting the elaborate stage set, which will also be flown in from Macau, the tour’s previous stop.

The stage—the same one used for the tour’s opening date on Sept. 9, 2015, at Bell Center in Montreal, Canada, and all other coming dates—was designed by Stufish, the design studio founded by Mark Fisher, which also did the sets of the respective tours of Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, U2, Lady Gaga, Elton John, and 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, among others.

The MOA Arena crowd will be thrilled to see that the Rebel Heart stage “is almost as long as the entire court floor area” of the venue, according to a representative of the tour’s Philippine promoter, Music Management International.

The main stage leads to a long catwalk extending from its middle to the center of the space. At the middle of the catwalk is a second, circular-shaped stage, while at the far end is a third, heart-shaped stage.

The stage will allow Madonna to move as freely as possible and reach out to all sections of the venue. In fact, there will be seven bouncing sway poles extending over the audience during the performance.

The Rebel Heart concert averages 20 songs, give or take a couple of additional tunes, depending on Madonna.

The set list from the Feb. 20 show in Macau contains four segments: “Joan of Arc/Samurai” theme, opening with the Beatles’ “Revolution” accompanying a video, before segueing with five Madonna songs; “Rockabilly meets Tokyo,” five songs including “True Blue” and “Like A Virgin”; “Latin/Gypsy,” five songs including “La Isla Bonita”; “Party/Flapper,” five songs including “Material Girl”; plus an encore, “Holiday.”

The tour, which will end on March 20 in Sydney, has a total of 82 shows: 36 in North America, 25 in Europe, eight in Oceania, and 13 in Asia, including the two dates in MOA Arena.

It is presented by Live Nation, with whom Madonna signed a five-year contract worth over $1 billion.
Read more: https://entertainment.inquirer.net/190622/madonna-crew-make-filipinos-crazy#ixzz40sdwtUq5
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Madonna arrives in Manila

Madonna arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, dawn of February 22, 2016.

The American singer and songwriter, whose full name is Madonna Louise Ciccone, was aboard a chartered Boeing 752 at 1:58 a.m., the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said.

From the plane, she walked at the runway’s ramp and boarded a limousine going to her hotel.

Madonna will be having a concert titled “Madonna Rebel Heart Tour” at the Mall of Asia Arena on February 24 to 25 2016.

Read more at https://www.mb.com.ph/madonna-arrives-in-manila/#dz5603ZQ2LpzZB8y.99

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New in Filmography: Madonna in Truth Or Dare / In bed With Madonna, TONS of scans, lots of videos!

New in our Filmography is Truth Or Dare / In Bed With Madonna. We couldn’t have timed it better as it’s been almost 25 years since it made it’s memorable debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991. Not only that but the Dutch documentary Strike A Pose following up on what happened to the dancers of the Blond Ambition Tour has just premiered at Berlinale. Receiving nothing but praise and set for a Dutch premiere in May.

We have taken a lot of time getting this one together, hours of scanning original articles, finding great videos and memorabilia (from our own collection).

  • Press – over 125+ original magazine and newspaper articles scanned
  • memorabilia – including the original Cannes programme, displays, original videos and much more
  • Trailers – view a rare original TV spot and see the trailer
  • Movie Scenes – view some scenes from Truth Or Dare from the blu-ray in HD
  • Interview – watch the entire interview with Rene Mioch
  • Buy the film!
  • Read the facts

Visit Truth Or Dare now, ENJOY

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‘strike a pose’: a homage to madonna’s blonde ambition dancers

At the drop of a hat, any serious Madonna fan can run down the most indelible moments fromTruth or Dare (or In Bed with Madonna). The highest-grossing documentary ever at the time of its release, the film details the on-and-off-stage antics of her 1990 Blond Ambition world tour. My highlight would be when the tenacious pop princess sings a cappella with her two back-up singers outside an arena, as they hold hands and strut past impassive police “in the fascist state of Toronto,” after being told she’d face arrest on the grounds of not-very-virginal onstage crotch play.

Sure, the film seared into our collective consciousness those iconic Jean Paul Gaultier costumes and Madonna’s oft-discussed water bottle fellatio feat. But with the luxury of hindsight, what remains most groundbreaking about Truth or Dare is the way it candidly explored and embraced young queer life. At one point, hip-hopper Oliver even complains about being the only straight performer on the tour, as her six other dancers were gay men. And in a pre-So You Think You Can Dance era when dancers mostly toiled in oblivion, Truth or Dare propelled Madonna’s surrogate family of backup talents — Salim, Gabriel, Carlton, Jose, Kevin, Luis and Oliver — into the spotlight in an unprecedented way. While the dancers became role models of self-empowerment and success for millions worldwide, the touching new documentary Strike A Pose reveals that applying those ideals of freedom to their own lives proved far trickier.

“It’s impressive to see people follow what you did and, 25 years later, still appreciate you for telling your personal side of the story and getting all emotional about it. I’m so moved by that,” iconic voguer Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza tells me when we sit down with fellow dancers Kevin Stea and Salim Gauwloos for a chat at the Berlinale, where the film’s world premiere elicited rapturous cheers and heartfelt Q&A testimonials the night before. Still reeling from what Kevin describes as “the overwhelming love and look of awe in people’s eyes,” I reckon it’s just starting to dawn on them that they never stopped being role models for such a wide spectrum of fans.

Among them, Strike A Pose co-director Reijer Zwaan, a political scientist and deputy editor for a current affairs program in the Netherlands. In other words, not quite the filmmaker profile you’d expect for such a project. Zwaan agrees it’s a happy departure, explaining how the guys left a big imprint on him growing up. “It stems from a personal fascination of mine with these dancers,” recalls Zwaan. “I saw the film when I was 11 at an Amsterdam theater and was immediately mesmerized. I saw the film many times after that and wondered what had happened to them. I found people online writing about how they came out or dared to be themselves because of them. It certainly was inspiring to see a group of gay guys be so open, proud and cool. I remember being impressed with them, as was [co-director] Ester Gould.”

Upon meeting the guys separately and being completely taken by their combination of “sweetness, strength and openness,” Zwaan and Gould agreed there was a big story to tell. One that would afford the six surviving dancers (Gabriel sadly died of AIDS in 1995) a chance to speak for themselves, and open up about the inner demons that prevented them from achieving the very freedom they embodied so convincingly. “The idea of self-acceptance as being very hard for all of us, even when you are a paragon of pride, was very powerful to us,” says Zwaan. “That’s what connected all their stories for us.”

Read the full article at I-D Vice

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