Paterson has had longtime collaborations directing
and choreographing for 7-time Grammy winner Madonna
and 13-time Grammy winner Michael Jackson.
hope that the outcome of Loving the
Silent Tears will reflect all of the
love and the goodness and the positive energy that we feel
in putting this piece together.”
top-selling female recording artist
A rare and eclectic artist, Vincent Paterson is a highly
sought-after director and legendary choreographer whose accomplishments
span the worlds of Broadway, opera, concert tours, film, music
videos, television shows, and commercials.
Angeles Times article (Nov 22, 2012)
on a new Michael Jackson film, with photo
of Vincent Paterson
and Michael Jackson
The brilliant Mr. Paterson has been known as a key creative
energy source in the careers of Michael Jackson and Madonna, collaborating
with each of them for many years. He had been a prominent dancer
in two of Michael Jackson’s most famous music videos.
He explained, “I danced in ‘Beat It.’ I
was one of the lead gang leaders in ‘Beat It.’ I was
also assistant choreographer and a zombie in ‘Thriller.’ I
did that, you know. [Shows the zombie dance moves from ‘Thriller’]
(laughs) So I got to know Michael really well.”
“Viva ELVIS” show
Mr. Paterson went on to create what would be the King
of Pop’s all-time classic “Smooth Criminal” music
video. In the years to come, Vincent Paterson also directed
and choreographed Michael Jackson’s “Bad” world
tour, as well as a number of his other most memorable performances.
For Madonna, he directed/choreographed one of her world
tours and the famous performance of “Vogue” at the
MTV Awards, and choreographed her “Express Yourself” video,
among many other projects.
Leaving his mark in Broadway theatre, Mr. Paterson received
a Tony Award nomination for his choreography of Kiss of the
Spider Woman, collaborating with renowned Broadway producer/director
Hal Prince. His choreography and/or directing work have been seen
as far as on London’s West End (Lenny for director
Sir Peter Hall), in Germany for Berlin’s first original production
of the musical Cabaret, and in Prague, Czech Republic (Gulliver’s
Travels). More recently, he wrote and directed Cirque Du Soleil’s “Viva
Equally at ease in opera, he directed and choreographed
Massenet’s Manon with soprano Anna Netrebko and Plácido
Domingo as conductor. He was nominated for Best Television Arts
Program at the Montreux Film Festival for directing Anna Netrebko:
The Woman, The Voice.
is a magical place. I
think that good theatre is always about something
spiritual. You experience something, I hope, that
when you leave the theater, something inside of
you, some DNA has altered a little bit, so that
maybe when you step outside of the theater door
you can create some positive fragment of energy
that would act as a ripple effect and kind of pass
that on throughout the world.”
Paterson, Tony-nominated director/choreographer
Meanwhile, in the film industry, Mr. Paterson also has
choreography credits that include the Oscar-winning musical film Evita starring
Madonna, and movies of acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg
(Hook starring Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams), Sydney
Pollack (Havana starring Robert Redford), Mike Nichols (The
Birdcage), and Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark starring
In addition to work on over 250 television commercials,
Mr. Paterson directed and choreographed the TNT special In Search
of Dr. Seuss, for which he received an Emmy nomination and
five ACE Award nominations. Another Emmy nomination was
earned for his choreography in HBO’s Comic Relief VII.
In 2008, he appeared as a judge on the reality TV talent search
show, Step It Up and Dance.
Explaining his remarkable versatility across the art
forms, Mr. Paterson shared, “I had my first dance class when
I was 24 years old. So, I had had another whole life before that,
that didn’t involve dance. So my interests were varied. I
was as much interested in opera as I was MTV. And I think having
the knowledge of how to choreograph as well as how to direct, and
having studied acting for many, many years and been an actor for
a while, it opened a lot of different doors, because I could relate
to dancers, I could relate to actors, I could relate to singers.
And I think that having that kind of knowledge afforded me these
unbelievable opportunities in a gamut of genres.”
As the director of Loving the Silent Tears, he
masterfully carried out a beautiful vision of humanity and peace
that involved presenting the profound poetry of Supreme Master
Ching Hai through an all-star cast and elevating songs, along with
the cultures of 16 countries represented in soul-stirring dances.
On the red carpet prior to the premiere of Loving
the Silent Tears, he happily affirmed, “We always do
the best we can. You never know how the audience reacts, but
it seemed that last night the audience loved it so much that
this afternoon I’m meeting with all of the stars to tell
them that if they keep on applauding, ‘You’ve got
to come back and [do] one more bow.”
Following are excerpts from Mr.
Paterson’s interview with Supreme Master Television prior
to the musical’s premiere, in which he shared wonderful
stories about his artistic beginnings, working with Michael Jackson
and Madonna, and directing Loving the Silent Tears.
I majored in drama actually,
theatre. I had nothing to do with dance. I
used to pass by on my way to work a little dance studio all
the time, and I would peek in and I would see the kids in there
dancing and stuff. And I was about 23 years old. And finally
one day I thought, “You know what? I’m a theatre
person. I don’t exercise. I don’t do that much.
Let me go in and see if I should maybe take a dance class.” So
they didn’t have adult dance classes. And the woman was
very sweet and she said, “If you’d like, you could
come in and take with the young adults.” And that was
kids that were like 11 to 15 years old. I studied very, very
hard, and four years intensive training. I auditioned for nine
months for everything I could. Never got a job. And finally
broke through, and then my dancing career kind of took off.
I did everything from touring the world with Shirley MacLaine,
to doing commercials.
I loved dancing, but I felt
that I had more of an affinity for being the sculptor rather
than the clay. I
was fortunate enough in the very beginning. It was the early
stages of music videos. So they called and said, “Would
you like to try some choreography on Van Halen or David Lee
Roth or something like this?” And I said, “Yeah,
sure, I’d love to do that kind of thing.” So I
tried it and I really loved it. And that’s sort of how
it all began.
Paterson (left) and
during work on “Smooth Criminal”
famous “Smooth Criminal”
music video and “Bad” world tour were both directed/choreographed
by Vincent Paterson.
with Michael Jackson for 17 years. Last
night actually I went to a private screening [of the documentary Michael
Jackson: BAD25] at Sony. The “Bad” tour was
Michael Jackson’s first solo tour. Prior to that I
had done a few wonderful projects with him. He called me
and asked me if I would conceive and create a video for him
to a song called “Smooth Criminal.” And then
I did one for “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and
multiple other pieces that were in his short film, Moonwalker.
And then his first tour came up, and he asked me if I would
direct it and choreograph it. And I did. And that was the “Bad” tour.
But I went on to work with him for many, many years after
that, creating performances for him on the Grammys or on
the Super Bowl, a couple of commercials for Japan. The last
thing that I did with him was at the end of the ‘90s,
and I directed and choreographed a video that became number
one around the world.
I always make notations about
things that excite me or something that inspires me, or a new
I not only bring that into the choreography, but in directing
and in the conceptions that I come up with, and what I create.
In terms of choreography, Michael told me early on, he gave
me a beautiful thought. He said, “Don’t try to
impose your ideas on the music, let the music talk to you and
tell you what it wants to be.” So as a choreographer
that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve spent
a long time with the music in my head, in headphones. I just
sit back and let it sort of flow over me like a meditation.
And then those vague and abstract concepts start to take physical
shape when I get into a studio.
Jackson’s memorable Superbowl
halftime show, 1993
The largest group that I’ve
ever given any direction to was when I choreographed the Superbowl
for Michael Jackson (“We Are the World”). And
I had to talk to all of the people at the Superbowl, in the
stadium, because we did a card trick. … Michael loved
children, and so one of the things we did was we had all of
the people in the audience begin to hold up these cards, and
as they went around the whole entire stadium, it turned into
a chain of almost paper cut-outs of little children holding
hands. That would have been the greatest mass of people. And
what is that, 50,000 people or something? I don’t even
Evita starring Madonna;
choreography by Vincent Paterson
Madonna was also another wonderful
creative being whom I had the opportunity to work with for
many years. I
think about 12 or 13 years. I worked on a Pepsi commercial.
It was a historical piece; it was a three-and-a-half-minute
commercial; it was the longest commercial that had ever been
done. And I was asked to choreograph it. And that’s when
I met her. She didn’t really want a choreographer when
I arrived, and I was a little embarrassed about that. The director
had brought me in. But I decided, “Okay, let me work
with these kids that are in the background, these dancers.” And
I started to play with them, and one day I was working with
them and they were all facing me, and I see them sort of slowly
stop. And I’m thinking, what are they stopping for? I’m
standing here in front of them and telling them what to do.
And I turned around, and there was Madonna. And she kind of
had on a big robe and kind of fuzzy bunny slippers, and her
hair in curlers. And she said, “What are you doing?” And
I said, “Don’t worry, I’m not choreographing
anything for you, I’m not doing anything for you. I’m
just working here with the background stuff.” And she
goes, “No, I like it! I’m going to go change, let
me learn what this is.” So that’s kind of how it
began. We got along really, really well. And I went from that
to then choreographing a video for her called “Express
Yourself.” And then, she asked me to choreograph and
direct the “Blond Ambition” tour. I think I was
the only director/choreographer that she’s ever used
to do the entire show myself. All the other shows that she’s
done after that, she’s hired like five or six or seven
different choreographers. So I thought that was a nice feather
on my cap. I enjoyed that. Then I did the movie Evita for
her, which was a really fun event. I’ve done a lot of
other projects with her, Academy Awards, other things,
but you know, it all kind of becomes a big blur after a while!
I was approached by Cirque
du Soleil to create a dance show for them. And
so I worked with them for a few years, creating the piece,
writing the piece. It was about Elvis Presley. So it closes
at the end of August, and over a million people have gone to
the show. And I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work
with acrobats. I’d never done anything like that before.
I like to always be challenged. I always like to try something
that I’ve not done before.
I got a call from Hal Prince,
and he was doing a musical, Kiss of the
Spider Woman. Terrence
McNally had written it and John Kander and Fred Ebb had done
the music. And he wanted to know if I was interested in choreographing
it. It was a very strange request for me, because one day Hal
Prince called; the next day Michael Jackson called and asked
if I would direct his next tour. And I had to decide between
Michael Jackson or doing Broadway. Well, I’d already
done Michael Jackson and I’d already done Madonna, and
so I’d done two hugely successful concert pieces. The “Bad” tour
broke three Guinness World Records. It was the largest audience
that had ever attended a live concert. It was the largest amount
of shows that were ever done at Wembley Stadium, and I can’t
remember what the third one was. So I thought, “You know
what, I’ve done two concerts now. I’ve never done
Broadway.” And if I’m going to do it, who better
to work for than Hal Prince – the “Prince of Broadway,” John
Kander, and Terrence McNally? I also had the wonderful opportunity
of working with Chita Rivera who starred in it.
In terms of directing this
project, Loving the Silent Tears, I liked the idea of
liked the idea of having a show like this and what’s
behind it. I thought, “Oh, this won’t be difficult,” because
it was first presented to me almost as a revue. It was poems
that had been created into songs and dances that would accompany
them. As we went on, it got bigger and bigger and bigger so
that it then became a story attached to the songs. And the
cast went from one size to a bigger size to a bigger size to
a bigger size. So now we’re talking about something that’s
fairly close to almost a cast of a hundred when you figure
the orchestra and the principals and the ensemble and the two
extra companies that we’re bringing in. I think we might
even be going over the cast of a hundred. So, from the first
conversation to today, we’ve really expanded this project.
We’re literally circling
the globe with this project. The
show visits 16 different countries, so to speak. How do we
do that? Well, we came up with a device. We’re creating
a train that’s sort of a train of spiritual enlightenment.
While we’re in the reality of the action and the drama
that transpires between two people, guided by a third, we go
to these moments where something that they’re discussing,
even in a very vague sense, materializes, or is appropriately
sung about in these beautiful poem songs. It’s deep enough
that it has a resonance to it, and I think it’s all interwoven
had the best time. Love you all. Thanks for trusting
me and for a remarkable experience.”
Paterson, Tony-nominated director
the Silent Tears rehearsals
at the Shrine
They’re beautiful poetic
prayers that have been set to music. It’s beautiful sentiments. I’ve
read these poems, I think they’re beautiful. But we wanted
to have some narrative that would thinly weave these together.
So I had suggested, maybe it’s a story about someone
older and someone younger, and they’re both going through
problems, seeking some kind of enlightenment, which is what
most of the poems are about. And they somehow have conflict
with each other, and the resolution of that conflict brings
them back to a place where they’re open to step forward
in their spiritual life once again.
Silent Tears production meeting
The scope of this project for
the amount of time is almost an impossibility. I
think, “Oh, well, everybody thinks we’re going
to do it, so we’re going to do it. We all have faith
so let’s just jump in and make the thing happen.” We
have three weeks to create something like 22 dances as well
as all of these scenes that pull all of these pieces together.
It’s a massive amount of work in a very, very limited
amount of time. I had the first production meeting the other
day, and I went through the script and talked through sets
and sound effects and costumes and things like this. It’s
a mammoth, vast production for the amount of time allotted.
You come into a new project,
you meet new people, it’s new energy, it’s exciting,
people come with fresh ideas. I
know Jody Watley is going to sing. I know that Jon Secada is
going to sing. I know that Black Uhuru is going to do the Jamaican
section. And they’re all very, very talented on the world
stage. As for the dancing cast, I’m absolutely blown
away, because the project that I did for Cirque du Soleil is
closing at the end of this month, and we were fortunate enough
to have some of the most amazing dancers who exist in the United
States. And the majority of them are now going to come over
and do this project with us. Most of the creatives are new
to me. Our set designer and our lighting/projection designer
are two gentlemen whom I’ve known of for a long time
and have respected their work for a long time but never had
had the joy to collaborate with.
Paterson with the cast taking final bows
It should absolutely be a magical
going to hear great music. They’re going to see great
dancing. It will be a wonderful evening of theatre. You have
a fun time; beautiful costumes, great sets to look at. So all
of that I think is one reason to come, but also, I think there’s
some beautiful messages here, about enlightenment and self-realization,
and that’s always nice to hear, and that’s always
a nice reminder to have throughout life.
this project, Loving
the Silent Tears,
everyone so far, from the very first meeting,
has been so
positive and so
with such open
and a beautiful
how to live life, that I would be very surprised
if that didn’t all infiltrate what we’re
creating. I just hope that everyone will be
able to get a sense of what has inspired us
this piece together, what it means to us, and
the beautiful messages that we hope to present.”
Paterson, Tony-nominated director/choreographer
Interview with Vincent
Paterson on Saigon Radio Hải
A household name for
the Aulacese community abroad, the radio channel
serves an estimated 750,000 listeners across Southern
Radio Host Mộng
Lan: Mr. Vincent Paterson, It’s
an honor for me to be talking with you today.
Vincent Paterson: Oh,
thank you. Well, first of all, it’s an honor to
do this interview, Mộng Lan. It’s wonderful,
and I’m so excited that so many people are listening
and are excited about the show.
Mộng Lan: The poetry, is that from Supreme
Master Ching Hai?
are her beautiful poetry that some wonderful composers
in the United States have taken and made into incredible
Radio Host Mộng
Lan: So Mr. Paterson, do you happen to
know Supreme Master Ching Hai before the show was
being put into place?
Vincent Paterson: No,
it’s my introduction to the entire organization.
It’s the first time I know anything about them.
And I think it’s terrific. The beautiful things
that they stand for, being vegan and world peace, and
to try to find out the reasons to stop global warming
- I mean, these are all things that I believe in very
strongly. So it’s wonderful to be participating
in something with a group of people who feel so strong
in their heart that it’s important to try to change
the world and make the world a better place for everybody.
And especially animals, I love animals so much.
Mộng Lan: It’s an honor for the Vietnamese
community to welcome you into our community.
of the Vietnamese community, I have fallen in love with
Hồ Quỳnh Hương, who is here working
with us. And she is so incredible, she is so sweet.
Radio Host Mộng
Lan: Mr. Vincent Paterson,
you’re going to be in collaboration with the
top artists with 15 Grammy Awards, 4 Oscars, 3 Tonys,
6 Emmys. I understand that you can be very busy because
they are top performers in the world and from six
Vincent Paterson: Oh
absolutely. The exciting part is when you hear this wonderful… We’ve
been listening to recordings on tape to create this piece.
And the last two days, the performers have come in and
sung live while the dancers are dancing. And everyone
just danced around and said, “Oh my God, I have
goosebumps on my flesh because it’s so exciting
to hear beautiful voices in person.” And it’s
really going to be an incredible event.
my name is Vincent
Paterson, and I’m the
director of Loving the
Silent Tears, and I want
Be Vegan, Make Peace.”
Paterson, Tony-nominated director