From left: Douane Gosa, Gianni Goffredo, James Whiteside, Maxfield Haynes and Matthew Poppe in WTF. Yo Poosh, Courtesy Kimberly Giannelli PR.

Real Life Music Video: James Whiteside and Co. Performed at Madonna's Birthday Party Last Weekend

We've always known that Madonna loves dance. After all, the "Queen of Pop" studied at the Martha Graham School in the 1970s. Nevertheless, we were still surprised (and thrilled) to see that she invited James Whiteside to perform at her 61st birthday party in The Hamptons last weekend.


The American Ballet Theatre principal performed the choreography (on pointe!) from the music video for his newest pop hit, WTF, which he released under the moniker, JbDubs in April. Whiteside was joined by four backup dancers: Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo. Catch a clip of the performance below.

Madonna's party took place in the midst of rehearsals for her upcoming Madame X tour. According to Vulture, Madonna was give the name Madame X by Graham herself, after showing up to class each day with a different identity. And of course, we love Madonna's choice of JbDubs song. Of Whiteside's musical oeuvre, WTF most explicitly targets a ballet audience, with lyrics referring to George Balanchine, the Rose Adagio, former New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay, Sergei Polunin and much more. Whether or not Madonna's guests understood all of Whiteside's references doesn't seem to matter; we guess they were more than taken with the quintet's precision, attitude and impressive pointe work.

This appearance leaves us wondering if Madonna will give Whiteside and Co. bigger platforms on which to perform. After all, Whiteside is already besties with actress Jennifer Garner, and he toured with pop star Rozzi earlier this year. In the meantime, we're looking forward to seeing Whiteside back onstage at ABT this fall.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

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In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

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And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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