In 1990, infamous pop star Madonna launched her Blond Ambition tour, which proved one of the most controversial concerts of all time. Critics found it overly sexual, but her fans found Madonna's willingness to address AIDS and the importance of safe sex groundbreaking. Co-directors Ester Gould (A Strange Love Affair with Ego) and rookie Reijer Zwaan detail the highs and lows of one straight and six gay male backup dancers who performed with the tour in the new documentary, Strike a Pose. Madonna herself documented the tour behind-the-scenes in her (also-infamous) 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare. Gould and Zwaan dig deeper, exploring the dancers' lives as well as a 1992 lawsuit that claimed Madonna had outed them in her film without their consent. After the lawsuit was settled, however, the dancers reportedly realized their important respective roles in the gay community had given others the courage to express themselves.

Strike a Pose is a sassy and fierce journey into the '90s, well-equipped with interviews and concert footage that helps alleviate the film's painfully slow pace. The directors often repeat concert clips and lawsuit technicalities, which seems redundant but ultimately emphasizes the key points of the film. Even if you're not a Madonna fan, the dancers in Strike a Pose are enough to intrigue pop lovers and mainstream music critics alike. Viewers may find themselves more interested in the dancers than in the singer herself—which could be due to a lack of comment from the pop icon, who refused to be interviewed.

Gould and Zwaan were permitted to use footage from Truth or Dare, and through the focus on the lawsuit in Strike a Pose, they insinuate that there is lingering bad blood between Madonna and her dancers. In the end, though, they seem appreciative for the push toward being themselves, admitting they still love and admire good ol' Madge. (Kim Jones)


+ Nostalgic footage; interesting characters

- Slow build; sort of redundant

Strike a Pose
Jean Cocteau Cinema,
83 min.