By Terrance Turner
Inside a literal hall of mirrors, rap’s reigning mad genius blurred the lines of fantasy and reality, appearing everywhere and then not at all. Missy Elliott, clad in a metallic silver sequined ensemble, began her VMAs set with her new single “Throw It Back”. Elliott was surrounded by her dancers, all wearing futuristic silver bodysuits. They danced inside layers of mirrors that rendered then a shimmering, shimmying blur. Then she was gone.
The opening strains of “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” played. Missy appeared to spin out of the sky, wearing an inflatable black garbage-bag, helmet and shades — the same outfit from the video that made her a star. After appearing to fly near the ceiling, Elliott returned to the ground to rap the verses.
What followed was a dizzying dance medley of Elliott’s greatest hits: “Get Ur Freak On”, “Work It”, “Pass That Dutch”, “Lose Control”. On the latter song, Elliott was entirely absent. Actress and dancer Alyson Stoner — who danced as a child in the “Work It” video — performed solo. Wearing a yellow tracksuit, Stoner backflipped and breakdanced to wild applause. On “Pass That Dutch”, Elliott was present, dressed as a farmer in a cornfield. Also present was an alien mothership, into which one of the background dancers was beamed up. It was the latest in a string of stunning left-field visuals that have characterized Elliott’s entire career.
In the finale, an extended version of “Lose Control”, Elliott and her legions of dancers performed against a volcanic desert backdrop, with vivid hues of yellow and orange. They wore black leather with neon yellow accents, sharply contrasting with the intense color around them. In the audience, spectators including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Todrick Hall, and Taylor Swift danced joyously to the music. When the seven-minute, career-capping medley was over, they rewarded Elliott and company with raucous applause. Watch the memorable performance below.