Torture, floating performers, and Ron Athey — all this and more were included in the original treatment for Lady Gaga’s performance of “Applause” at the 2013 VMAs. Creative development and production company, Dissident — a company that “converges at the intersecting realms of visual arts, film, music, fashion sport, emerging technology, and international event installation” — have posted the case study on their website, revealing details from the original outline that MTV Networks turned down.

Lady Gaga recently revealed that she wanted look alikes to wear her iconic looks from past music videos, but MTV also refused to let her carry out her vision. Check out the treatment above along with the visual references and rehearsal photos of the final product! (x)

In Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated return to the stage Dissident and Robert Wilson oversaw the design and direction of the programs opening live four-minute sequence. Within a highly charged set Gaga performed her #1 positioned billboard pop song “Applause” to over 10 million television viewers.


LG begins on the center stage B below LED scoreboard, in a draped black gown (see reference image). The KAWS head turns to reveal a black backdrop (ex.: silk) stretched across the truss of the head. A red torture performance possibly involving artist Ron Athey (TO BE CONFIRMED)  is displayed on an incline, with mirrored, bloody glass (see reference image). LG very slowly walks the catwalk to the main stage over a period of one minute and forty seconds.

At 1:40 / as LG arrives at the black silk drop, it drops kabuki style and is immediately pulled offstage to reveal a blinding white paradise garden (see reference images), filled with LG performers, possibly floating or displayed on tall pedestals (see attached looks). At the same time as the black screen drops, LG’s black dress drops to reveal the same elegant gown in white. LG begins to walk stage left across the stage in profile over the course of two minutes. As she crosses the torture figure, the dress turns red.

At 3:13, LG begins to fly diagonally up stage right in front of the white garden. The song ends as she is still ascending diagonally above the garden. At 3:36 or the end of the song, there is a black out; she is lowered and the head turns back to original position for next act. The exact timing of the walk, if her song is to be preceded by other noise/white noise etc./prior to it starting, etc. is ytd.

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