Drum Corps International
Material guard: SCV's Dekko teaches Madonna rifle

Material guard: SCV's Dekko teaches Madonna rifle

by Dave Wilson

So what's Madonna really like? Allan Dekko, the Santa Clara Vanguard's tour manager who recently taught the material girl some rifle moves for her upcoming "Reinvention" world tour, said the superstar is "a perfectionist."

Alan Dekko
A mutual friend of Dekko and Madonna's head choreographer Jamie King arranged for Dekko to display some rifle moves for King, who was thinking of including a rifle segment in the show. "It was one of those 'who you know' situations," King said. After Dekko's demonstration, he was hired to instruct Madonna and her dancers. Dekko worked with Madonna and seven male dancers on 64 counts of her 1989 song "Express Yourself." The performers are keeping the riflework very "military," according to Dekko. "It was basically kept to a series of manual of arms and variations on them. Anything too fancy, they didn't like," Dekko said. Madonna's rifle abilities were adequate, and the atmosphere very direct. "I won't say that she is a natural, but what is being asked of her she did well," Dekko said. "I found her pleasant to work with. She doesn't really dilly-dally." Dekko's instruction happened during the last hour of her daily choreography rehearsals on a soundstage south of Beverly Hills, Calif. "The rehearsal atmosphere is warm. The sound stage is kept very warm as that is the way she likes to rehearse. She would work on choreography from 5 to 8 p.m. I usually worked with her privately the last hour. She works very precisely. She has a job to do and she wants to get it done," Dekko said. "She is a visual learner," Dekko said of Madonna's learning ability. "You show her, and you do it with her. She doesn't go on until she feels comfortable with what she is trying to learn. She's going to do it until she doesn't have to think about it any more – (until) it's on instant recall." Despite Madonna's penchant for wild costumes on stage, Dekko said she always wore sweatpants during these rehearsals. However, "She always smelled good. She would walk in and you would go 'She's here.'" All rehearsals were closely monitored by a bodyguard. Fans will find plenty of older Madonna material on the Reinvention tour. "It's pretty much her old stuff. It's a pretty packed show of her greatest hits, "Dekko said, adding that in addition to spinning rifles, dancers will be dangling from bungee chords during part of the show. Overall, the choreography reminds Dekko of Cirque du Soleiel. Excluding the current members of the Santa Clara Vanguard, Madonna is the first "superstar" Dekko ever taught.