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Still the ‘walk’ of town: How tribute shows immortalize Michael Jackson

Published: Updated:

He’s “bad,” he’s “dangerous,” he’s Michael Jackson, and even though it has been four years since his death in 2009 – the King of Pop’s famous back-sliding dance-move still seems to be the “walk of the town” across the world, not to mention the Middle East.

Cirque du Soleil, a world-known dance entertainment company, recently announced that their show “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” will be coming to the Middle East this December. The company describes the show on their website as “a riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world,” and is set to be staged in Dubai.

immortal
immortal

The show, written and directed by Cirque du Soleil’s Jamie King, will feature around 60 performers. The cast consists of singers, dancers, musicians and acrobats collaborating to pay tribute to the King of Pop’s dance moves and music.

“[The show has been] performed in more than a 100 cities as of today, and 24 countries in three continents. We have performers from some 19 countries. It is the most spectacular tour,” Renee-Claude Menard, the director of Cirque du Soleil, recently told Gulf News.

Cirque du Soleil has also produced a second show as tribute to the King of Pop. The show, entitled “Michael Jackson One,” has been recently performed in Las Vegas; while ‘Thriller Live’ - a show directed by award-winning choreographer Gary Lloyd – is currently celebrating its fifth year in London’s West End.

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One

‘Thriller Live’ began almost a year before Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, three weeks before his much-awaited comeback concert series, “This is it.”

Although his sudden death shocked the world, it proved that the king has yet to live on as tribute shows immortalizing his extraordinary talent continue to increase in number and in popularity.

Whilst the ongoing success of ‘Thriller Live’ and the two Cirque du Soleil shows proves that the King of Pop’s legacy lives on; the fact that they both rely on multiple dancers and in the Cirque du Soleil’s case loads of fireworks, special and visual effects means that it does take quite a lot of ‘show business’ to bring fans as close as possible to an authentic Michael Jackson experience.

However, a new tribute show is promising to go back to basics and leave the audience moon-struck!

Return of the ‘King’

For London-based choreographer-turned-perfomer Anthony King, who is also the founder of the MJ Style Dance Class at London’s Pineapple Dance studios, a good Jackson tribute doesn’t need ‘caricature or comedy’.

Since last year, King has been performing tribute gigs which keep getting bigger. His next performance is due on 26 October at the Shaw Theatre in Central London.

King, who has been performing since the age of 10, says that the aim of his shows is to allow the audience to get as close as they possibly can to watching the talent of Michael Jackson.

Anthony King’s brother was Jackson’s official look-alike for a long time.

“I started very young, when I would watch my brother and he would take me around the world dancing with him [since the age of] 8 years old. He worked for Michael as his personal double, so Michael really did run in the family so to speak,” explained King to Al Arabiya English.

King believes that the death of Michael Jackson has led to people enquire after the famous artist, exploring his life and his music.

“The ‘This is it’ concerts really helped because so many people wanted to see him, and now can’t, they still want to experience a part of the music, the man and magic of the King of Pop. Elvis [Presley] has more shows now than when he was alive, so I’m sure Michael will continue to be popular for ever - his music was timeless.”

King, who also teaches Michael Jackson’s most famous dance moves, such as the moon walk, to those who wish to learn, explains that the King of Pop is popular in the Arab world.

“I do have many students from the Middle East because I think that Michael was very popular in the Arab world,” King said, “people might not know, but he created [the movie] “Ghosts” with Prince al-Waleed bin Talal and performed twice in Brunei.”

“The Arab culture knows rhythm and music - its part of [their] everyday life, from prayer to the street - they know good music,” he added.