Saturday, September 22, 2018

Commentary: Michael Jackson, A Dancer’s Tribute to the King of Pop, the Godfather of Commercial Dance

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under iDANZ Commentary, iDANZ Features

Well, my throat is choked up hearing about the passing of Michael Jackson. It’s just unbelievable to me, an absolute shock . . . so INCREDIBLY talented . . . so young. The man who has created the soundtrack of my entire childhood is gone. As a professional dancer, I can definitely say without question that Michael Jackson is the reason why I dance . . . the reason why I walk onstage . . . the reason why I entertain. It was the videos on MTV that inspired me, the moves, the fact that he employed dancers at all to dance with him that made me even want to consider being apart of this business. As each video dropped, I hurried to the television in heavy anticipation. I know exactly where I was when I first saw Rock With You. I know exactly where I was when I saw Beat It. I know exactly where I was when I first saw Remember the Time. I know exactly where I was when I first saw Thriller and how I would shut my eyes when the “high chord” hit and his yellow eyes bugged out. My God, how he influenced me, how he influenced all of us as dancers.

When I heard the news, I was actually in the dressing room just minutes from getting ready to perform. I found it difficult at first because I was really fighting back tears, but as pros, we learn to move on. When we were done, the other dancers and I piled into the car and listened to Michael Jackson songs on 98.7 KISS FM. On my way home, I stopped through Harlem and saw the crowd gathered outside of the Apollo. It was like a block party. We were all gathered around a single boom box jamming to the radio . . . singing, dancing, reminiscing. It was beautiful. I danced and shared tears with my fellow brethren for three hours under the stars and MJ’s new wings.Michael Jackson dies 6.45

His impact is bigger than Elvis Pressley. Watch any pop and locker, breaker, waver, hip hop freestyle dancer from New York to Tokyo; they all know MJ’s moves. I just got off the set shooting for Step Up 3D and the lead of the “Samurais,” Cloud, members of the Groovaloos, and the breakers in the cipher circles, all channeled Michael Jackson for his steps. I went to see The WIZ Monday night and in nearly every improvisational moment, from the Lion to the Scarecrow, from the Tin man to the chorus dancers, they all would cop a move from Michael Jackson’s repertory.

And such a trailblazer! We forget, if you are old enough to remember the beginning of MTV, that there were no videos as short films on cable let alone black artists even presented on MTV and God forbid black dancers. It was just boring band footage. So, not only did Michael Jackson break the MTV color barrier, but he went in big and sparked an entire movement we still use as a blueprint for shooting current day music videos today! That’s major . . . And for us dancers, his blueprint of making dance music videos continues to open opportunities for us to be captured on film and perform with some of the most popular artists that use dance as an intricate part of their show.

Elvis who? To dancers (in the commercial dance world especially), Michael Jackson is everything. His steps, his style is soooooooooooooo recognizable. For one dancer/artist to start a whole dance style that is more recognizable, more imitated than even a pirouette around THE WORLD is just something never been done and may never be done again. We got artists like Usher, Chris Brown, Ne-yo and Justin Timberlake that clearly are influenced by Michael Jackson, but none of their moves are original. Michael Jackson fused his street steps (with the help of choreographer, Michael Peters) with steps that we may have easily found performed by someone like Bob Fosse or Gene Kelly in a movie musical. What’s most inspirational to me is how Michael Jackson performs on stages in SOLD OUT shows with legions of fans falling over each other as soon as he pops a balance on his toes. As dancers, we only wish we could make a mark deep enough to attract crowds at stadium level let alone have fans wail for our artistry with such deep support and devotion.

I know when I was in London and had the good fortune to watch Michael perform at Wimberley Stadium, I was in awe of his energy and his ability to sing live and dance in front of the thousands that came to watch him without missing a beat. What an entertainer! A true professional . . . such an inspiration for a budding performer like me at that time. I will never forget that performance.

Now that I’m home writing this piece, I’m getting frustrated with the press continuing to talk about his eccentricities like it’s some horrible thing. Hey, in our industry almost everybody is a little eccentric . . . some waaaaaay more than others; however, it is the one thing that marks a true creative type and for some of us -pure genius. And, think of it this way, if us starving artists had as much money as Michael Jackson, we would do some crazy eccentric stuff too with our money. Normal people will never understand; they only show “hate” and try to tear down eccentrics in which they are envious of their success and money (the only two things normal people can find tangible to comprehend). Just watch, in a few weeks a book will come out with a bunch of conspiracy theories on how he died and legal crap. Remember, these people are not artists, just leeches that want money and have noooo respect for the mind of an artistic genius.

King of Pop . . . more like, to us dancers, the Godfather of Commercial Dance. Michael Jackson will always remain in my heart as the most brilliant entertainer/singer/songwriter, the most disciplined artist of the craft, the most consummate professional, and the most influential dancer that has ever lived.

Rest in peace, M.J. I’ll miss you. And, on behalf of all iDANZers and dancers across the world, thank you.

See you in the sky . . .

Candice Roxwww.iDANZ.com

Senior Editor,

 

 

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