On Monday, Lady Gaga confirmed she was no longer working with long time choreographer and creative director Laurieann Gibson. Insiders say Gibson, who’s African-Canadian, was a major force in developing a then-struggling Gaga in to the pop star whose won praise the world over for work that Gibson directed — and work that Gibson wasn’t afraid to say was inspired by iconic black artists.
Gibson started working with Lady Gaga in 2007, before the pop star had released her first album "The Fame." In an interview with the LA Times earlier this year, Gibson recalled her early days as Gaga’s mentor and someone who helped boost the performer’s confidence. "She came to me like, ‘I got dropped and I don’t really know if I have it in me to know what I need to do to make my dream come true," Gibson told the Times in June.
"And then she played me her record and I said, ‘Listen, I’ve got enough for the both of us, let’s go.’ We started designing her opinion as a live performer and what that would be, what the records would feel like visually," Gibson continued.
In the five years Gibson has worked with Gaga the pop star has sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide. Gibson has had credits on nearly every Lady Gaga video released to date, including "Poker Face," "Just Dance," "Telephone," "Alejandro," and "Born This Way." She’s also choreographed many of Gaga’s live performances and concert tours–including her most recent one, which became one of the top 10 highest-grossing tours of all time.
Throughout those years, Gibson transitioned from choreographer to creative director. She’s has been quoted before saying she shaped Gaga’s "visual aesthetics" after Madonna.
Gibson is believed to be a leader in the team that produced "looks" for Gaga that allegedly stole looks from Grace Jones and M.I.A. For years Gaga has tried to distance herself from legendary artists like Grace Jones and Madonna by saying she’s a big fan, but she’s not copying their style.
She was also creative director for Gaga’s performances that sometimes included an almost entirely black cast of dancers and musicians, including an October performance at an event held in honor of the Bill Clinton foundation.
Most recently, Gibson directed the critically acclaimed music video for "Judas" and also directed Gaga’s Emmy-winning HBO concert special.
Gibson had already made name for herself before her work with Gaga. She started her career as a Fly Girl on "In Living Color" and has worked with big name performers, including Sean "Diddy" Combs, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and Madonna. This year she also launched two television shows: "Born to Dance", a dance competition on BE,T and a dance reality show that followed Gibson and her team called "The Dance Scene" for E!.
But as Gibson gained more notoriety and was doing more interviews, she increasingly offered up constructive criticism for Gaga. That’s when insiders say the duo began to go their separate ways. Journalists often referred to Gibson as a dream subject to interview because she’s didn’t speak to the media in talking points and wasn’t afraid to offer up honest evaluations of performers with whom she’d worked.
Gibson has been quoted saying she was uncomfortable with the religious undertones in the "Judas" music video directed. She also re-tweeted a tweet that said a Google Chrome commercial Gaga starred in was better than the video for "The Edge of Glory" — the latter resulted in a heated exchange with Gaga fans. MediaTakeOut and The Hollywood Reporter say the alleged fall out began in May when Gibson told the LA Times that she had modeled Lady Gaga’s "visual aesthetics" after Madonna, an artist Gibson worked closely with.
"Listen, [Madonna] should be bitter because I did it on purpose, and you can quote me," Gibson told the Times. "I did it on purpose because for all those kids who believe that you can’t, I wanted to let them feel that you can."
Richard Jackson, who’s Gibson’s former assistant, is now choreographing Gaga’s performances.