On Sunday night, Nicki Minaj assaulted the Grammy stage with a controversial, over-the-top performance of her new track, “Roman Holiday.” Full of kookiness, complete with religious imagery and an exorcism of her bad-boy alter ego, Roman, Minaj owned the headlines coming out of the show.
MTV News caught up with choreographer Laurieann Gibson, who dished about what went down behind the scenes to stage the spectacle . “Well, I’m not really moved by what people say; I’m moved by what it is and again just a big ‘thank you’ to the Grammys. I was super-proud about the execution and really excited about how well Nicki performed,” she said. “[Her] being a rap queen, it was really amazing to see rap music at that level and have the ability, at that level, to perform something so theatrical.”
Nicki is no stranger to theatrics, and neither is Gibson, and the ladies turned up their creative dials to a big 11 when it came to the debut performance of the Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded track.
“I’ve worked with Nicki before. When she was first starting I did an MTV performance [on the VMA pre-show in 2010]. She just is so unique,” Gibson said. “I love being able to get back in that, and when she called me, she talked to me about the movie aspect of it, the exorcism part of it, and then we just evolved it. And I just evolved the inspiration not from a literal perspective, but for me, it was ‘OK, that’s the subject matter.’ Then I am able to be very theatrical, very dramatic, very big, very bold without it being literal.
“So the exorcism was her idea and her concept,” she continued. “And for me, it was just a place of being theatrical and dramatic in the coloring and the content and the story of the monastery and the monks.”
At the end of the day, the women did have something to say, and Gibson was surprised that the message didn’t translate on a bigger scale.
“I do have to understand how they want to evolve the character, with her in particular it was Roman, with the idea that he needed to go to a monastery because he needed to go,” she teased about his naughty ways.
“For me, it was about the theatrical aspect of being able to create something like that. It’s about always inspiring people and extract that negative from them and believe in what they can do and empower themselves in a positive way and not be afraid to look at those things that are evil. … The inspiration and the fight in the choreography, in the creative, is bold because when you believe in yourself and you believe in the good, you come from a bold place. You’re not intimidated any longer by the evil.”
Gibson had a message for any haters out there.
“I was super-shocked because one, there was nothing literal. I was very conscious, OK, no crosses … when creating choreography, the instinct thing is to go to a prayer and I was like, ‘No praying hands!’ ” she said, noting that in the end it was all about “the innocence and the purity of just being bold, about the fight and no fear. … There wasn’t anything negative there.”