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DENNIS ANYONE? with Dennis Hensley

Welcome to Dennis Anyone, a podcast about making things up and making things happen. I love to talk to creative types about what they do and how they do it. Hope you enjoy my conversations as much as I do. - Dennis H.

May 4, 2023

Dennis is joined via Zoom by Vincent Paterson, director, choreographer, dancer, actor and now co-author of a book about his life and career entitled Icons & Instincts: Choreographing and Directing Entertainment's Biggest Stars. Dennis had so many questions for Vincent about working with icons like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Shirley MacLaine and the Mandrell SIsters that the interview lasted for over two hours. So ithis one's going to be a two-parter.


In this episode, Part 1, Vincent talks about what inspired him to write the book, growing up with an alcoholic father in a small town in Pennsylvania and falling in love with dance in his mid 20’s. He also discusses the tragic murder of his first lover in Tucson, AZ, the psychic interventions that helped him move out to LA and his earliest dance jobs working with stars like Olivia Newton-John in the "Totally Hot" video. He also talks about his long creative relationship with Michael Jackson, working first as a dancer in the “Beat It” and “Thriller” videos then choreographing Michael’s epic “Smooth Criminal” video, which features that gravity-defying lean move that Dennis had several questions about. Other topics include: why choreographers need and deserve a union, saving pieces of floor from the "Thriller Room" the late great Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood, what it was like to be part of the L.A. dance community during the AIDS crisis, talking about sex and masturbation with Michael Jackson, hanging out with Bubbles the Chimp and what Vincent thinks about when he hears a Michael Jackson song today. We get deep into Madonna and much more in Part 2.