You are not alone!
The ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson left us on June 25, 2009. But his legacy lives on, in the hearts, smiles and dance moves of millions of his fans across the world. On the eve of his death anniversary, AMRITA PRASAD and VINAYA PATIL catch up with some of his Indian followers
Some 36 years ago, he moonwalked his way into our hearts and became the ‘King of Pop’. His moves were an electrifying fusion of acrobatics, dance and visuals, which even today are near impossible to replicate. Yet he has inspired many to try and mimic his signature moonwalk, and pelvic thrusting dance moves.
This proves one thing — dancers and singers may come and go, but there is only Michael Jackson.
Be it his music, his glides and spins, his fashion sense or his attitude on stage, Michael Jackson continues to fuel the aspirations of millions of dancers across the globe. We chat up a few of them, a small group from the huge community of fans that the artist has.
‘He was a one man show’
Nikhil Gangawane, founder president of The Official Michael Jackson Indian Fan Club
I first saw his Black or White video in 1992 and was fascinated to the point that I thought no one could move like Michael Jackson. I started practising his dance consciously from 1997. But even today, I continue to think that no one can dance like him.
You can impersonate Michael Jackson by wearing clothes and wigs like him, and moonwalk too. But to glide the way Michael Jackson does on the music, without much of a conscious thought, is something that very few dancers can achieve. When dancers performs like Michael, they are only trying to raise their caliber to a certain level.
He never danced on counts like most dancers do now. I try to follow his lessons that your emotions can be your instrument while dancing. You don’t necessarily need the rhythm of an instrument. I don’t consider MJ as just a dance icon. He was a one man show, who could deliver a performance that involved singing, dancing, pyrotechnics and a lot of other illusions and drama.
His humanitarian work and humility have always been an inspiration for me. Behind the scenes, he funded organisations, visited orphanages, hospitals, etc. Indians remember Michael Jackson’s 1996 concert in Mumbai, but no one remembers how he got down from his car in Dharavi and danced with the kids there. That’s the real Jackson!
To keep his legacy alive, I being the founder president of The Official Michael Jackson Indian Fan Club, regularly monitor and update news, achievements (which still happen in terms of sales or other stuff), telling fans the truth and clarifying rumours surrounding MJ. Many of his new fans were not even 10 when MJ died, so they grew up with a lot of misconceptions about him. I’m trying to address those through the fan club.
‘To do his style is a responsibility’
Michael Jackson was the reason we (the team MJ5) all came together. The reason he is called the ultimate dance icon is because he was a humanitarian and his songs were a lesson in it. The world knows him for his iconic moonwalk, so we have created 25 new types of moonwalks, that is a world record in itself. We believe we are Michael’s extended family from India. To dance like MJ and do his style is a responsibility that we undertook with our soul and heart.
We love his passion for his dance and work, hence he will be remembered till the very end. The fact that he was a constant learner of dance, inspires us to follow his style and keep his legacy alive.
While dancing like MJ, we also try to blend in our own style, like popping animation and Bollywood, and of course our moonwalks. We bring an Indiannes, comedy and storytelling to our performances.
‘To dance like MJ means happiness’
Anusha Naik, dancer and Chartered Accountant
MJ will always be the King of Pop. He has a huge fan base even today. His legacy will remain intact. But if we can open up more dance studios to promote his style, that would be great. It is not easy to imitate MJ, not easy to dance like him. But trying to dance like him means happiness, satisfaction, a feeling that you have achieved the unachievable. The slides and glides, spins, the anti-gravity lean, all are iconic. I don’t think there is anybody or there will be anybody who could cross the bar set by him. His dedication, his passion always brought something new in every music video and every stage show of his.
Around eight years ago, when I was a part of our college’s dance group, hip-hop was relatively a new style in Pune. Ours was one of the groups trying our hand at this emerging dance form. At that time, we were also preparing for inter-collegiate competitions and decided to include an MJ sequence.
My friends and choreographers (Bharat and Siddharth) taught me this style and even though I couldn’t do 100 per cent justice to MJ, I got a bit of recognition for attempting his moonwalk. I watch his dance videos to understand his techniques and tricks and try to bring his essence in my dance constantly.
‘Michael Jackson’s legacy is immortal’
Aakansha Dave, choreographer and zumba instructor
I began practising MJ’s style of dance through his music videos when I was in college. I performed a big routine on a mix of all his hits with all his moves in 2009, when I was in my undergraduate year. I also learnt the moonwalk!
The body language, the posture, the placement of the hand or a twist of the leg done correctly is what defines authentic MJ moves. Although, I can never come close to dancing like MJ, his moonwalk and his iconic postures are always going to be my favourite go-to moves.
It was the finesse in his moves, the poise, and his attempt to bring perfection to every beat, that made him a world class performer. Michael would glance at the audience and put up maybe one arm on the beat, and he had the audience with him. He knew how to engage the crowd with his moves. That’s what makes him an icon; I am inspired by the performer in him! A music and dance legend altogether! His music videos and the choreography was and will always be one of
a kind. Even now, when we play any of his songs in workshops, classes, etc, people of all ages connect with them. It’s magical!
Blue Gangsta, Dirty Diana, You are not alone, Slave to the rhythm, They dont dare about us, Ghost, Dangerous, Childhood are some of the many many hits that Michael Jackson gave to the world of music.
Five of Michael’s solo albums — Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory made epic records and are among the top-sellers of all time. Thriller even holds the distinction of being the largest selling album worldwide in the history of recording industry with more than 70 million units sold. Another record was that of the singles released from the album making more than 100 million copies worldwide.
During his extraordinary career, Michael sold around 750 million records worldwide, and became one of the rare artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was recognised as the ‘Most Successful Entertainer of All Time’ by The Guinness Book of World Records. The much-loved entertainer won 13 Grammy Awards and even received the American Music Award’s ‘Artist of the Century’ Award.
Having begun his musical journey at the age of 11 with his brothers (as a member of the Jackson 5), he defined the art form of music video in the early 1980s. Videos like the Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller made many groove to his tunes. MJ’s sound, style and dance moves eventually inspired generations of pop, soul, R&B and hip-hop artists.
Michael believed that all people are unique and equal, regardless of race or culture. His message was one of unity, harmony and hope for a better world. Thus the name Michael Jackson ONE.