MadonnaTribe is proud to present its readers
the first ever interview dancer, director and choreographer
Luca Tommassini gave to a Madonna News Site.
We had the chance to chat with Luca about how he ended up
involved in many amazing Madonna projects such as The
Girlie Show, Evita, the Human Nature
video and the Bedtime Story live performance at the
1995 Brit Awards.
But Luca did not share his talents with Madonna only, the
list of international stars with whom he worked with in the
past years is huge, counting Kylie Minogue, Geri Halliwell
and Paola&Chiara just to name a few.
And now, Ladies & Gentlemen... MadonnaTribe
meets Luca Tommassini!
MadonnaTribe: Ciao Luca and
welcome to MadonnaTribe. Our readers know you for your collaborations
with Madonna in many of her works and projects in the 90's,
The Girlie Show probably being the first one that
comes to mind.
But by reading your resume or taking a look at your reels,
it strikes the fact that you're active in a lot of different
fields, from choreography to artistic and video directions,
and how your name is linked to an incredible number of Italian
and international stars.
All this started when you entered show business when you
were only eleven years old and when, at sixteen, you moved
to the US to study dance.
In some way you were already a multi-tasking artist since
the beginning - do you think it was only by chance that
you ended up starting as a dancer?
Luca Tommassini: God's ways are endless
and apparently ours are too... I could choose to be a dancer
when I was nine years old, my mother didn't have the same
opportunity. I think you need a lot of luck but most of
all you have to work hard and study.
Maybe there's a
destiny already written for you but I always like to challenge
that destiny. I like to think I can write my own path. I
like to change, challenges make you wake up in the morning
with so much energy and enthusiasm. I keep on dreaming and
this is the most important thing.
MT: December 2006 marked the tenth anniversary
of the release of Alan Parker's Evita. You took
part to one of the most important scenes in the cinematic
version of the musical, dancing an energetic tango with
Madonna during the song Buenos Aires. Legend says
Madonna insisted she wanted you to fly over to Argentina
to dance with her in that scene.
How did things really happen?
Well the truth is... Madonna was pregnant
and that scene had the most elaborate choreography. She
had to work really hard. Coreographer Vince Paterson and
Madonna herself wanted me in the movie because they knew
they could trust in me. I danced with Madonna for years
and they knew I would have protected and took care of her.
Vince also knew Madonna and I can dance very well together
and that I could easily pass for an Argentine man in the
film. And let me straight the fact we shot that scene in
London, not in Argentina and that I will never forget that
The thing is, I was almost becoming bold. I used to have
platinum blond hair with dark edges for a major tv show
I was doing in the week-end in Italy called Buona Domenica.
In Evita I had to have dark hair so when the tv
show was over I used to leave for London (I did it for three
consecutive weeks). As soon as I got to London I had to
dye my hair black. At first I simply tried to get away with
it using a black colouring spray but on the first day of
rehearsals Madonna got upset because when we danced and
we were sweating a lot I had this black colouring thing
coming down from my hair. It was really embarassing, thank
God we were good friends.
Then when I came back to Milan for the Italian tv show I
had to have blond hair again. The last week I didn't go
blond again as my hair was completely burnt, I could not
even wash it and when I touched it there were pieces of
hair on my hand... a disaster!
What other memories you have of the Evita
LT: It was very exciting
and very hard, especially as M was four months pregnant
and nobody had to knew about it at that time.
So she had to wear bands to contain her stomach and she
had to dance for tweleve hours a day with high heels, make
up, wigs and fake teeth on. I remember we used to hug each
other a lot, because she was very tired and she leaned on
me. She was very sweet.
Is it hard to dance a frantic tango like the one in Buenos
Aires? The couple should really show "it takes
two to tango"...
LT: Well there's often confusion about
tangoing in Evita.
I didn't exactly danced a tango, but a mix of tipical
dances of that era. - a mix of different styles. Vince did
an incredible research and wanted to include in Buenos
Aires a lot of different styles. The thing that is
really tyring is that in cinema you have to shoot the same
scene different times, for the different angles and so you
have to repeat the same scene endless times and you have
to do it in the same exact way each and every time...
But I would have repeated it for a full week, I was so happy
to be there.
As Madonna was expecting Lola did the production take special
precautions on the set or for dancing scenes? Was she calm
in regard to the situation?
LT: No, she wasn't calm at all... and she could not
even show it.
MT: Your appearance on Evita also brought
you an Italian Music Award as best dancer, what did
you feel when you found out you won that award?
I remember I felt very emotional that night.
I think it was one of the first prizes I won.
Evita arrived in 1996 but your collaboration with
Madonna started in 1993 with the Girlie Show. What
do you remember about auditioning for the first time for Madonna?
LT: I was called at the audition by
my agent in Los Angeles - back then I used to live there all
There were a thousand people auditioning there and later all
the dancers that were called back from the auditions in New
York and Miami joined us as well.
I honestly didn't have the hope to be among the chosen ones
but I put all my efforts in that audition. There's a dance
prize given in Los Angeles for Best Audition and
that year I won for my Madonna audition.For
each audition I used to completely transform my image e I
did a lot of them. I used to change my attitude and also the
colour of my hair and hairstyle if necessary. In that occasion
I turned myself into a Sex Boy Toy.
The SEX box was just out so I figured she was looking
for something similar, SM look black leather, rivets and knee-long
boots. Everything was fine until Madonna asked us to each
tell a joke. This happened near the end, when there was twenty
of us left and I HATE telling jokes. I was so desperate that
in the end I had to admit I haven't got the talent to tell
jokes. I was panicking and my mind was blank. In that moment
I thought she hated me. Everybody telling jokes except me.
But after a couple of hours we left the audition I received
a phone call from the assistant choreographer informing me
that I had been chosen as dance captain... I couldn't believe
it... I remember the first person I called was my mother.
We recently spoke with Italian singer
Chiara Iezzi, who knows you well and who also is a huge
Madonna fan, and she thinks you're the only one in Italy who
has had such a unique experience with Madonna and the on the
Girlie Tour stage the audience could feel she was
very fond of you. What do you think about it?
LT: We started
to love each other right from the very start, I don't know
why but there was this great feeling right away with both
her and her brother Christopher. I remember
that year I spent the first Christmas with them, they are
beautiful persons and we got along very well. Sometimes things
are more simple than what they seem.
Is there a number in the Girlie Show that you liked
the most and you're most fond of?
LT: I loved La Isla Bonita, I adored
the song and the choreography by Alex
Magno, he is one of the most talented teachers I ever
had... but most of all the song meant M and I each night...
looking in each other's eyes and even if we were in front
of thousands of people it was the most intimate moment of
the show for me... that moment was pure love... such a powerful
energy... her charisma. I will never forget those looks, those
MT: While speaking of Madonna tours I wanted
to ask you if you had a chance to see two more recent shows,
the re-Invention and Confessions tours.
LT: Yes of course, I always go to see her
when she performs live. I think that the quality of production
is always flawless. Sometimes I didn't agree on the setlist
of songs, other times I found her a bit too cold, but I can
only bow in front of Madonna, she is number one.
In 1994 you were chosen as one of the two platinum blond "twins"
for the famous Bedtime Story performance at the Brit
Awards. Speaking with Jamie King
a while ago he told us that he was the one that suggested
your name because he thought you would have been the perfect
choice for that performance.
What do you remember of that episode? It may not be one of
the most well known Madonna television appearances but it
definetly had something special.
LT: It was indeed a very unique performance.
I love the fact I could use Thai Chi movements and that we
were dancing in slow motion. Madonna was so beautiful and
it was another great experience for me. I learned a lot from
her. There's always a great research in the things she does,
to bring novelty on stage. Things are analyzed and there's
always a great courage and that's contageous. You always feel
like a pioneer when you're next to her... Invincible!
MT: Then the next year you took part as a
dancer to Human Nature, and you were also assistant
choreographer in the video.
What do you remember about the creative process behind that
LT: You you, everywhere I go in the world,
that's something that comes up again and again. Everybody
likes that video. It's the video that people love the most,
but we lived it as a simple video. To tell the truth it was
also a low budget video for Madonna at the time. But this
only underlines the concept that when an idea is strong it
does leave a mark. I was involved from the beginning and I
followed it step by step.
Putting together the choreographies was a bit complicated
but we also had a lot of fun. Using those ropes in rehearsals
we ended up tied to each other a whole lot of times. Then
while we were shooting a thousand things happened. That video
was the turning point for all the videos that followed. There
are some genious ideas there and still today it's being taken
as a reference.
And how was working with that huge talent that is Jean Baptiste
LT: I was already a big fan of Mondino since
Justify My Love. When Madonna told me that he was
going to be the director of Human Nature I had shivers.
It was like a dream to me. He's one among the greatest and
always will be.
MT: Besides Madonna you worked with
an amazing number of international artists and with most of
the Italian talents that are particularly careful to the presentation
of their image. I noticed that in many cases you accompanied
these artists in their careers with repeated and constant
collaborations. I think of Geri, Kylie, Paola&Chiara,
just to name a few. Is there a reason why these people are
so professionaly fond of you?
LT: I don't know why it happens, maybe you should
I'm a bit a workaholic, I love it and it's my air, my drug.
If I decide to do something I go ahead untill my goal it's
accomplished... I like to be a revolutionary, make people
think, analysing to optimize, I'm in the middle of everything
and I put everything in discussion.
It's something that I've always been doing with myself.
I give myself completely and I like to take out what's inside
the artists and not forcing them to endorse things that come
from me. I like them to show something that they have never
shown. Maybe that's the reasons we get so fond of each other,
I don't know...
MT: I'm sure you're very fond of all your "creatures",
be them choreographies, directions, artistic directions and
your recent shows and musical. But is there
one you cherish the most, for some special reason?
LT: I don't like to re-watch the things I
did over and over again... especially the ones where I was
dancing or acting... like any other artists I end up paying
attention to all the things I wasn't doing well, to my mistakes
and thinking about everything it could have been and was not...
it's like a curse! I really would like to feel what the audience
feels when they see one of my works for the first time...
but we are not allowed to, each time I do something it becomes
a part of me and it will remain with me forever.
MT: And is there an artist you worked with
you are particularly fond of?
LT: Through the years I learned that the "big ones"
are also "big" in their real lives. I found out
that the most they are great, the most they are humble...
there may be some ones who end up disappointing you, but luckily
they are only a few...
Unfortunately one of my weak points is that of falling in
love with the people I work with, deeply. You share so may
emotional feelings that you end up building a strong, inner
bond with all of them.
MT: After working a lot abroad you've been
brought back in your mother country by several projects. What
are your views on the state of the art in Italian show business
- are there still differences between working in your country
as a professional compared to places like the States or the
LT: This is something that really makes me mad. People
is often confused and they think American artist are better
than us. The truth is that in the American show business budgets
are way bigger and that gives the opportunity to put together
more expensive productions and the result is easily better.
But I can assure you that we are pushed to become more creative
because of the low budget problem. We have to invent things
because often we don't have mediums.
It is true though that art academies are better there but
here we can count on talents that are appreciated all over
Your first musical, a new production of Sweet Charity,
is a huge success in Italy and its star Lorella Cuccarini,
the whole cast and yourself really deserve this. How does
it feel to experience a series of incredible sold outs in
a country where the musical is considered as a emerging genre?
LT: Working with Lorella has been a great
pleasure. I always say she's the most "easy" one
to work with.She's a huge talent. I'm so happy of the experience
I've shared with a marvelous cast that each night conquers
the public with their impressive energy.
Sweet Charity was the first musical by Bob Fosse
and I'm a huge fan of his work and of him as a person...
it is also my first musical and by the way my favourite one...
Sweet Charity was a turning point in the art of coreography,
Bob Fosse swept away all the classic stereotypes and created
a style that is still inspiring nowadays... And this musical
is also a turning point for myself, for many different reasons...
At the moment I am working on three different stage shows
in Italy only, all having a huge success. There's Sweet
Charity and also Sola Me Ne Vo with Mariangela
Melato and Volevo Fare Il Ballerino with Fiorello
and you can easily tell how lucky I am for working with these
artists that besides being all number ones on their own they
also are wonderful human beings.
MT: Which projects are you working on at the moment
and what's coming up from you in the near future?
LT: I am working on
another show that will debut at the Teatro Argentina in Rome
this month with Gabriele Lavia, Shakespeare's Measure
Then I have lots of videoclip directons on the way like Coolio
with his song Dip It and the one for Francesco and
Roby Facchinetti's song Vivere Normale that I just
I will also be directing Emanuel Lo with Woofer,
Yaya with Infiammabile, Peter Andre and Katie Price
in A Whole New World.
I'm also working on the film Come Tu Mi Vuoi.
But one of the most important projects I have is Milano
Rockin' Fashion with MTV.
We will be doing this in Milan on May 31st. I'm also putting
together a marvelous Circus!
MT: Is there something in the show business you haven't
tried yet and that you would like to approach in the near
LT: Yes, I hope I can soon direct
a film. In September I will direct my first short movie based
on the true story of a boy who had cancer when he was twenty.
His name is Fabio Salvatore and he's an actor so he will be
re-acting his own story in the film along with other actors.
MT: Going back for a second to your
Madonna collaborations, is there something in her that sets
her apart from all the other artist you have collaborated
with in all these years?
we all know which are her good and bad sides. I can only say
that what makes her the greatest is strangely her simplicity.
I've always thought that among all the stars from the 80's
she is the only one who succeded in staying close to the people.
She kept communicating with them because she is a person and
she doesn't live in her own myth, unlike many other stars
from the 80's who started getting away from reality more and
MT: Is there something
you learned from the time you worked with her that enriched
you at a personal or professional level?
LT: A lot of things did, I learned a lot
from her, but the main thing is that there's no limit to what
you can do, if you want something you can achieve it.
MT: Luca, we often
end our interviews by asking our guests what's the fondest
memory of Madonna they have.
Can we ask the same thing to you?
LT: My fondest memory of Madonna goes right
back to the time of Evita, when we went shopping
one day and Madonna felt asleep in the car with her head on
my shoulder... that was so sweet.
MT: Thank you so much for sharing this time
with us Luca, and all the best for all the things you're working
more info about Luca Tommassini, his biography,
his amazing resume and his professional reels please visit
Note: This interview has been translated
into English from Italian by the Madonna Tribe team.
You can access the original Italian version
with Luca's own words by clicking
Sweet Charity, by Saverio Marconi and Luca Tommassini:
photo by Antonio Agostini, courtesy of La Compagnia della
This interview © 2007 Madonna Tribe.
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