City-based dancers and choreographers tell us how they have kept Michael Jackson and his rich legacy alive
He made the word swoon to his moonwalk, floored everyone with his hip-thrusting movements, and won millions of hearts with songs like Heal The World, Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Rock with You, They Don’t Care about Us and so on. Michael Jackson lives on in our memories forever and will be hard to replace. Through his music he taught people not to be violent, not to discriminate or hate based on race, gender, or sexuality, and to love others, trust and be honest, and take care of planet Earth.
A day before his death anniversary (June 25), we speak to MJ fans, who, apart from following his dance style, are deeply inspired by his philosophy.
Touched many lives
City-based corporate communication professional at VTP Group, Anshul Mehta has been an MJ fan since he was in his 12th standard and despite all the controversy surrounding MJ, the international artist has been his idol. “I miss him a lot. I am too emotional yet happy to be talking about him. There was no bigger star born before him and there won’t be a bigger entertainer ever. Even today, when someone dances, people say, ‘Kyun Michael Jackson banraha hai?’ The legacy is for centuries to remember and cherish. His love for children was selfless,” says Mehta who is known for his moonwalk and dancing skills like MJ.
For zumba jammer and dancer Aankansha Dave, who has been an MJ fan since childhood, not just dance but his music too holds great importance. She has collected books on him and many statues too. “He has been the biggest artist and dance icon of our times. He was a gifted musician and dancer and his style is unique. I learnt moonwalking inspired by him.”
His humane side
Nikhil Gangavane, singer, dancer, social media manager, a diehard MJ fan, an MJ performer and founder president of website www.clubmj.com — the official Indian Michael Jackson fanclub, which is authenticated by MJ Management/ MJ Source (www.michaeljackson.in) and Sony Music India, has been diligently following him since childhood.
“When it comes to dance, I have always followed what he said: ‘Follow the small nuances, those little sounds that make the framework of the song. Do not dance on counts. That’s not dance. That’s more like a drill or exercise’. The body should express all the sounds in the song we dance to and not just move to the beats. Make the body an instrument,” says Gangavane.
So how does his fans, and those who follow him are keeping him alive?
For Dave, the best way to keep his legacy and memory alive is through dance. “Every year, on his birth and death anniversary, I conduct workshops and dance classes. Also, on a regular basis I have theme based-dance sessions where MJ is a constant theme and people love doing that. Often, we have sessions where I make them do MJ moves to Bollywood music.”
However, Gangavane feels that the most important way to keep MJ alive is making the new generation aware about his humanitarian activities apart from his iconic performances.
“In more than 600 shows I have done in my lifetime, about 20 per cent of them were for charity,” says Gangavane adding, “When MJ was alive, our activities were monitored by MJ or his management. My Michael Jackson Anthem was a rage among his fans and received appreciation from him as well. That said, today’s dancers should understand the soul of MJ’s dance. Most of them know good moves, but the music and lyrics of the songs do not reflect in their dance.”
The author can be reached on @amu_prasad