Madonna was an unlucky singer who hasn’t been born in an art-traditional family, hasn’t been taught vocal music and wasn’t gifted with a gorgeous voice like other singers. The fantasy, freely performing style was considered marketing music and shallow by old-fashioned ideas who attached special importance to vocals.
But what made an untalented girl who came to The Big Apple alone with only 35 dollars in her pocket become the Queen of pop music, one of the biggest influence to pop music recently? What made her able to defeat other natural-talented pop divas to become the singer who sold the most in the world and was named in the Hall of fame Rock’n Roll museum (which Aretha Franklin was the only pop diva was named in) and was still able to kept her manner until now?
In this article, I would like to mention some art aspects and the big influence of Madonna - what makes a true artist, not a show-off in vocal.
Unlike other singers, Madonna’s biggest passion is dancing, not vocal music. Her muscles is the biggest proof of her hardworks in order to follow this passion. Ever since she was a kid, Madonna tried to convince her father to let her learn ballet. After going NY, she still tried to find a dancing teacher despite the difficulties in economic.
She used to be working iwht Mathar Graham and Pearl Lan, 2 famous dancers of those years, and some dance companies like Alvin Ailey and Walter Nicks steel her ability. That is when her dancing is the most polished. When she was asked: “You sing, you write songs, you dance, you play guitar, you’re such a talent! Then what do you think you are the best at?”, she confidently responsed: “I am a dancer.”
Some fans of these days’ young artists may assert that Madonna’s dancing skill is far lost to their idol. Therefore, before going further about Madonna’s dancing mentality, I would like to show some proofs, which are some high-class dancing moves of Madonna, to prove that she is in a higher level that even artists like Beyonce would find it hard to reach:
Through the above clip, we can see that it is not easy to dance like Madonna. The artist will have to take years of training to be able to get a flexible body, a good strength and the exact in each movements. They must have the brave to perform dangerous postures, and most importantly a great mentality.
In comparison with Madonna, the young artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga mostly dances on the high heels, performs lots of jerkings with the easiest body parts to use with like their bottoms, thighs, waists or breast to seduce the audiences and make them believe that these are the tough movements. And those movements are just “dancing” and rarely carry out any further meaning.
But with Madonna, she uses her whole body with her arms, neck, knees and head (the parts that are hard to use, could be dangerous and easy to be damaged while dancing) and rolling on stage with all kinds of tough and dangerous postures (including rope walking, air rolling…).
Madonna’s choreographies are the combinations of many types of stage art, not only jerking, hips shaking or arms waving in a specific dancing art. Madonna even reached to the level of acting by dances, to use the dance in stage performing and not just for aestheticism (the dances are use to describe punching, kicking, dying, violenting,...).
Madonna’s dancing ability should be seen by thoughts, acknowledging its debt, since it is not just making some popular postures to make instant effects.
Unlike Britney Spears, Beyoncé Knowles, Kylie Minogue or many other female singers, Madonna’s choreography is much more complex and diverse. When she dances, she controls the whole stage with tough and impressing postures.
Madonna always change her choreography in many different styles such as Disco, Wacking, Hiphop (oldschool), House, Hiphop (newstyle), Krump, Pop, Dubstep, Choreography, Dance on the Highheel, Breakdance, Street dance, Latin dance, and folk dances, Cowboy, Indian dances, Japanese’s noh, Ireland pole dancing, Popping, Parkour, Flash mode… Exspecially, the tendency to put ballet into dances have become her own specific style.
Madonna also has her own mentality in dancing and creates choreographies with clear concept and structures, co-ordinate with her dance buddies like the same body. To be able to do this successfully, Madonna had to spend all her efforts and did many researches of different arts and cultures. To Madonna, dancing is a true art, not like the instant K-pop choreographies.
Check out the performance of Frozen in her Drowned World Tour (2001)when she successfully brang the Japanese culture in a pop performance with geisha, samurai and noh.
No need of insanely jerkings or depending too much on dancers, Madonna can totally rock a huge stage alone just by charming dance postures. Try to cover some of her moves even the simplest one in any performance, you’ll be able to see how great Madonna’s skills are.
Feminine psychology have pointed out that a female artist will always try to put her own sense of feminity into her work of art. Just like in other arts, Madonna have always been trying to uphold all of her feminity in dancing as a proof of her woman power, which is also a way of her to fight for feminism.
In Madonna, there is a consciously experimentation, combined with her passionate instinct to show the best qualities of her own feminity, not a blurry instinct like in other female artists. The famous fashion designer Donnatella Versace once criticized Hillary Clinton for her manly, rigid dressing, claimed that she was trying to look powerful and influential. In my view, this viewpoint of her could have probably came from Madonna.
Because unlike her ‘opponent’ Janet Jackson, Madonna did not try to dress, walk, or dance in a manly way. Instead, her clothes are mostly the womanly, sexy ones that shows her body, as well as the seductive choreographies. We’ve often seen Madonna strokes her private parts, describing sex positions, shows her private parts in front of the camera.
She knows how to make men lust after herself, yet couldn’t touch her, as a secret authority of women that challenged the contemporary thoughts that domineered over women. This tendency have been claimed by Madonna in her album Bedtime Stories: “My whole idea about getting my power is to use all I have. To survive in a world of men, you cannot live like a men, dress like a men, or think like a men.”
Ever since, Madonna was the one who started the sexy way of performing with sexy clothes, seductive choreographies which plenty of singers are following recently: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Lee Hyori, Pussycat Dolls... Check out Madonna’s revolutionary Blond Ambition Tour (1990) which later changed the whole pop music industry.
Through the performances, we can see Madonna’s mastering sense of music and body controllability. For instance, in the performance of Sooner or later at Oscar 1991, Madonna showed her dancing skills in each movement of arms, legs, hips, her body and even her scarf were following the beat exactly. That means she had to calculate a lot in even the smallest movement.
Just like mentioned above, Madonna have reached the level of acting by dancing, using choreographies to describe each human emotions and expressions in each specific performance. Let’s take a look at her choreography-acting in this performance of Gang Bang:
As a researcher of dancing, Madonna always try to figure out the new dancing trends and orient her dancers in each album. This shows her sensibility in art making, never stand too long in one place and sometimes make the first moves.
In her album Confessions on a dance floor (2005), she cleverly used many types of dancing like Breakdance, Popping, Parkour, Flash mode...in which many types have become huge trends after the album and the tour The Confession Tour.
For example, from the 2 Hung up and Jump videos to the performances in The Conffession Tour, Madonna have successfully promoted Parkour (a street sport combined with dancing and martial art) by using professional dancers to rouse the stage, universal the art.
If you pay attention to the last part of the video and the performances of Hung up, you should be able to see the appearance of Flash mode. This is a dance with simple choreography that every one could follow, yet not too common then. It was when Madonna made the album Confessions on a dance floor that the dance got other artists’ attentions, like Jennifer Lopez - Papi or PSY - Gangnam Style.
Or at 2012, even at 54, Madonna decided to put the trendy ‘Dance on the highheels’ choreography into her newest album MDNA and succeed. And the best part is, the ones who were dancing on the highheels were the male dancers, instead of females. Of course, the ‘gender blur’ in this dancing style have been done by Kazaky - In the middle MV, but with this, Madonna was still able to become the lead of a new dancing trend. Moreover, she used it to raise her voice to support the LGBT community and held steady the position of a legendary Gay icon.
Also in MDNA, Madonna continued to design more types of choreography like drastic fighting, wrestling, guns in Bang Bang, and surprisingly walked on the rope in Hung up.
This is something I need to emphasise, as rope walking is an extremely tough skill requires great balance ability, not to mention the lousy music, the blinding stage lights, the audiences, that even a professional dancer is not bold enough to perform (even the ropes weren’t hang too high). But an over 50 woman was able to do it, at the age that walking could be a difficulty, not to mention the previous dances have took a lot of her power. Just with this, no one could even doubt Madonna’s great dancing ability, what Britney, Beyonce or Lady Gaga are still having a long way to reach.
At the middle-ages, when the other divas have made a stop in their career and barely can’t even walk appropriately, Madonna was still energetic with new-fangled dances that could start trends. She deserves to be the dancing master of every singer in the world.