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'Purple Rain' Choreographer Reflects On Prince

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Prince was known for his signature style of performing, so it should come as no surprise to learn the artist put a lot of effort into perfecting his moves early on.

"The country didn't know him other than Purple Rain on out, and I knew him before," said John Command, choreographer on Purple Rain.

A lot changed for Prince in the years that followed his hit movie.

Command was working for the Minnesota Dance Theater at the time.

"A rock band wants to take private classes and I went 'A rock band?'" said Command. "They walked in and there was Prince and Time and all those kids and Morris Day and Vanity," Command said.

He met Prince in the Spring of '83. The gifted musician wanted to tackle another form of art.

"He was very awkward movement-wise when he first started with me and so he was very fascinated with ballet," Command said.

When it was time shoot Purple Rain, Prince asked John to help choreograph.

"The music kind of evolved. He hadn't even written some of the music, and so it just kind of had to happen viscerally. You just had to create it on the spot," said Command.

They filmed for about three months against the now world-famous backdrop of First Avenue.

The quiet and thoughtful musician worked until his movements became natural -- a star exposing the light that was always inside.

"He had magic. It's a magical quality. You can't give it to anybody. They're born with it," Command said.

Starting with good old fashioned hard work. Leaving behind an extraordinary legacy.

"Magic, gentility, kindness, tolerance, beauty, androgyny, acceptance. All of that," Command said.

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