« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Laurieann Gibson puts Lady Gaga and other stars in step

Choreographer Laurieann Gibson has helped Lady Gaga with her often spectacle-filled performances. ‘She is so fearless,’ Gibson says of Gaga.


Laurieann Gibson
is pressed for time — even at breakfast. The in-demand choreographer is noshing on bacon and scrambled eggs before she’ll race to LAX to catch a Chicago-bound flight. There she will join her busiest client, Lady Gaga, to tape a performance for Oprah.

This after a hectic month spent completing Gaga’s “Judas” video and HBO concert special (she directed both), traveling to Atlanta to film an upcoming BET reality competition, shooting a vacuum cleaner ad and promoting her E! docu-series, “The Dance Scene,” which follows Gibson and her team of dancers and choreographers as they prep artists and industry events. The show is averaging 1.1 million viewers weekly.

Since her days as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color,” Gibson has choreographed for longtime collaborator and friend Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry and Gaga, among others. Her dance work with the latter singer, whom she affectionately calls Gags, has yielded 10 videos, including “Bad Romance,” which earned Gibson a Video Music Award for choreography in 2010. The 2003 Jessica Alba flick, “Honey,” was based loosely on her life.

Gibson is accustomed to the pace. On a tour of the Hollywood dance studios where she does her work (and later used to film the E! show) she hopped around as she juggled projects: Kelly Rowland in one studio rehearsing for a video, teen pop upstarts Destinee & Paris in another. She managed to find time for a moment with Pop & Hiss.


People might not know that you’ve been with Lady Gaga from the beginning. How did that union start?

She came to me like, “I got dropped and I don’t really know if I have it in me to know what I need to do to make my dream come true.” And then she played me her record and I said, “Listen, I’ve got enough for the both of us, let’s go.” We started designing her opinion as a live performer and what that would be, what the records would feel like visually. How would “Just Dance” turn into “Poker Face,” into “Bad Romance”— and now the “Monster Ball” [tour].

A lot of her visual aesthetics have been compared to Madonna. As her creative director what are your thoughts on that?

Listen, [Madonna] should be bitter because I did it on purpose, and you can quote me. I did it on purpose because for all those kids who believe that you can’t, I wanted to let them feel that you can. And that’s what I represent, that’s what Gags represents. That’s what this movement represents.

You’ve been pretty tight-lipped on this BET project. What can you tell us about it?

It’s called “Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson.” We auditioned 20 girls from three different cities. These girls, like me, were in their canopy bed dreaming of an end place and nothing around them said it was possible. I talk about it and I cry because I think of who let these girls down. When someone says you’re not good because they are intimidated by your gift, I’m going to help them not internalize that. 

What can you tell us about the new Gaga album? 

“Born This Way” is shaping up to be creative ecstasy. I think what I most love about this project is she is so fearless and the freedom that I’ve gotten since day one to stretch my gift. It’s hard to work with an artist that’s like, “I don’t want to do that.” You can’t push them. Where she is like, “Let’s go, and add more sprinkles.” It’s like a rubber band. It stretched me. She did an incredible job on the new album. It’s a visual fantasy for me. There’s no place we can’t go.


Lady Gaga's 'Judas' video leaks: Leather, Mary Magdalene, foot washing and dance galore

Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' video: Making goddess culture accessible

Lady Gaga: 'I find that men get away with saying a lot in this business, and that women get away with saying very little'

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Images: Laurieann Gibson & Gibson on the set of a Lady Gaga video shoot. Credits: Stefano Paltera / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (32)

OH MY GOD. A "movement" that represents copying other artists??!!! Can someone please tell Gaga it's time to step down off her little coked-up platform and let someone with some who works for the movement of ORIGINALITY instead come through?

Madonna never copied Mariyln - far from it - she used her image in one videoclip, and then inverted it, playing on what she represented to society as a feminist statement.... Monroe symbolised the ultimate female submission, the male gaze, and Madonna turned it upside down to make it menacing and powerful. Totally, totally different to what Gaga is doing... which is copying.

you fools need to do your homework. Madonna does NOT pre-date Janet Jackson. they both literally came out AT THE SAME TIME. Do your homework. BOTH of their debut singles were released in October of '82. Janet's first album was released in November of that year, then Madonna's first album came out in January of '83. Janet's influence over the current young female pop stars is juts as evident as Madonna's, if not more. and yes, Madonna HAS copied off of Janet NUMEROUS times. let's not sit here and act like Madonna is the end-all-be-all of Pop music. she did the same thing Lady Gaga is doing now-copied off the other female stars of her day to make her name. ask Debbie Harry, Cher, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, etc.

Madonna is a copycat from the 80's, and Gaga is a copycat for the new millenium. so what's the big argument here? neither one of these overrated trashbags has any talent of their own, which is why they copy off everybody else.

Lady Gaga is heavily influenced by Madonna. This is someone who she admires greatly and it shows. Its a part of who she is. Gaga isnt the only artist heavily influenced by Madonna...just look at Britney Spears, Beyonce, Rihanna, Kate Perry, etc...

People can call her a Madonna Wannabe, or Freak or whatever they like because in the end of the day, after over 10 millions records are sold, she's laughing her way to the bank.
10 million records x $20.00 each
>you do the math.

Yes but Madonna doesn't write her own music and to be honest she can't sing very well either which is why she has so many iconic looks and changes all the time she is all about the look

when Gaga started up nobody was comparing her to Madonna it was only really when she did the Alejandro video that the comparison started to become more obvious this new album even the music is similar but only really the production on it even Gaga doesn't produce all her own music that's mostly Redone (who rips off everyone) i think Gaga really wants to stick around and she probably thinks being similar to Madonna will help her do that but I doubt she is solely responsible for it and plagiarism is stealing someone else's work not making your work sound a bit like it otherwise all pop stars would be guilty of that more or less

so in summery yes she copied Madonna a bit but i think her team did it more and besides what is original about Madonna she didn't do any of it herself

« | 1 2


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: