Strike a Pose Directed by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan
Published Apr 28, 2016For anyone who's seen Truth or Dare, the 1991 film that chronicled Madonna's controversial "Blond Ambition" tour, and wondered what became of the became of the back-up dancers that made such a memorable impression as supporting players, the documentary Strike A Pose serves as a rewarding epilogue. As directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan catch up with the talented performers, we learn of the various trials and tribulations they've endured in the years since, and of the uncommon bond that unites them.
The group may have hailed from eclectic backgrounds and possessed their own individual personalities when Madonna handpicked them for the tour, but what's especially striking are the similar experiences they'd shared. All but one was homosexual and confronted regularly with the harsh realities of living in a time when it was hardly as accepted as it is now. Two of the dancers, Carlton and Salim, were concealing the secret of being HIV-positive, while a third, Gabriel, was doing the same but later succumbed to the disease.
That's not to say the other dancers haven't had their own share of setbacks over the years. The only straight dancer — Oliver — who recalls how he had to deal with his own homophobia when he first joined the tour, overcame a bout of Bell's Palsy, and we see him now reduced to waiting tables at a restaurant in one scene. Luis struggled with addiction following the tour and spent some time in rehab, while Jose went through a dark period of withdrawing from the world and never lived up to his mother's lofty expectations for him.
The unseen presence that still looms over all of them naturally is that of the "Material Girl" herself, who it's disappointing to find doesn't make an actual appearance in the film. But once we learn that she was sued by three of the dancers for scenes they pushed not to include in the Truth or Dare film, her absence at least makes a little more sense. Gabriel's mother even reads from the deposition he gave in court that she keeps on a bookshelf, and we see a clip of a pair of the dancers on an old episode of Maury airing their grievances.
The film inevitably climaxes with an emotional reunion of the dancers, in which they have dinner, share old war stories and, of course, play one final heart-wrenching game of "Truth or Dare" that further solidifies the unique connection they will all undoubtedly share for life.