Gene Kelly and Madonna: talk about an odd couple. But believe it or not, the two of them did briefly work together in 1993. I had almost forgotten that little detail until I was watching my DVD of Madonna’s Girlie Show tour earlier tonight. The story is that when Madonna was getting ready to go out on tour, there were several different choreographers she wanted to work with and Gene Kelly was one of them. She specifically wanted him to choreograph a number for her song Rain.
Well, it doesn’t take a genius to see that Gene Kelly’s style just wasn’t going to mesh well with Madonna’s, who was then at her most outrageous. According to her brother Christopher Ciccone, the show’s director, Gene Kelly wasn’t very comfortable working with her dancers, who had been picked more for personality than classical dance backgrounds. But he got a number together and when Christopher saw it, he realized it just wasn’t a good fit for the show’s burlesque circus theme. So he got Madonna to come check it out, and at first she was adamant that they keep Gene. But then about a week later, she decided that his number had to go. She went up to Christopher again and told him — and then asked him if he’d be the one to fire Gene. Personally, I just think it’s absolutely hilarious that Madonna didn’t have it in her to fire Gene Kelly. Throughout her whole career, Madonna has been the most fearless woman in the music industry. Nothing intimidates that woman, but the thought of having to fire Gene Kelly was enough to suddenly turn her into a shy little girl.
I imagine this was a little different from her deciding that she wants to work with a different record producer, though. Madonna is a big classic film aficionado (that tour in particular was chock full of classic film references) so I imagine she grew up watching his movies and had a lot of respect and admiration for him as a dancer. But I guess she must not have had any hard feelings toward him considering the show ended up including a very Gene Kelly-esque dance interlude set to Singin’ in the Rain.