Lady Gaga's HBO concert special was wrapped and the video for her next single, "Judas," was being edited when the director of both projects, Laurieann Gibson, found herself becoming Gaga's de facto spokeswoman. It just so happened that rumblings about the new video's existence coincided with Gibson's media appearances in connection with her E! show "The Dance Scene," which premiered April 10.
"There's a decided shock value," Gibson says of the biblically themed video featuring Gaga as Mary Magdalene and Norman Reedus portraying Judas Iscariot. "Ultimately, it's a story about oppression; a story about following your heart and the glory of being free."
Billboard recently caught up with Gibson in Atlanta, where she's starting production on the BET show "Born to Dance," slated to debut Aug. 2. Atlanta was chosen as the locale, Gibson says, because "we [already] see the ugliness of the business" in New York and Los Angeles "where artists are disposable."
In contrast to the "Dance Scene" cast of professionals, "Born to Dance" features Gibson working with 10 young women without access to high-end training or auditions. The show traveled to such cities as Detroit and Philadelphia to find "girls born with this passion," says Gibson, who also works for Interscope developing the visual styles of young performers.
"It's a survival story of youth and how much they need real art," Gibson says. "There's real hope and inspiration there. We're very conscious about not saying, 'You're fired.' There's so much rejection in the dance world. My show isn't about winning a trophy and then being let go. We're trying to find the one girl who can be a part of my team."
Gibson, whose credits include "So You Think You Can Dance," "Making the Band" and "Skating With the Stars," also sees "Born to Dance" as an opportunity to share information with would-be dancers and girls thinking about making it a career but also having to take jobs that pay the bills-like the time she was a dancing tampon, "in a costume where you could barely breathe." In the first "Born to Dance" episode, the ladies are working on a Sears ad for vacuums.
"The focus is really on giving information," says Gibson, whose first major job was as a Fly Girl on TV's "In Living Color."
She compares the experiences she's had since 2007 with Gaga-two broke women working on the creation of an act that's as visual as it is musical-to what she hopes to achieve with the young dancers: teaching them that choreography is a form of storytelling.
"I took a theater concept and put it in an arena," she says, noting that 17 cameras were used to create a 360-degree look at Gaga's Fame Monster tour on the May 7 HBO special "The Monster Star Ball at Madison Square Garden." Gibson adds, "This is the story of the journey Gaga and I have been on together."