DS Remembers: A tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
Also: A Green Day musical takes to the stage and The Dirt with Joey Dowling.
Michael Jackson’s unexpected death on June 25, 2009, shocked the world. The superstar entertainer, who began his career with The Jackson Five when he was just 5 years old, went on to earn 13 Grammy Awards throughout his career. Jackson’s Thriller holds the title for best-selling album of all time, and he was in the midst of taking off on his 50-date sell-out This Is It comeback tour. His popular music videos like Beat It, Billie Jean and Black or White made Jackson an MTV staple. And then, of course, there were the dance moves. Jackson’s signature moonwalk became—and still is—a craze in the dance world. The dance community will forever remember Michael Jackson. —Alison Feller
“I’ve dreamed about being onstage with Michael Jackson for as long as I can remember. Words will never express how I felt when I was chosen for his This Is It tour. The first thing I’d do in the morning when I was a kid was play his music. I’d dance and moonwalk all over the house. Michael inspires me on every level. You can’t explain the energy his presence brings—everything around you just comes alive. You come alive. My heart is broken, but I’ll always cherish this experience.”
— Chris “Kriyss” Grant
“I had the privilege to audition for Michael’s tour in April and I am so thankful to have been able to dance in his presence. At the very end of the callback, Michael provided chips, cookies, fruit and drinks for all the dancers who auditioned. “Rino, a fellow member of the Beat Freaks, and I were cast as London local performers and were invited to start attending rehearsals. We were finally going to meet Michael! I booked my ticket for Europe and couldn’t wait to share the stage with him. It meant the world to me.
“The day we heard the tragic news, I was waiting to find out what time we could go to the Staples Center for rehearsal.
It was my ultimate dream to meet Michael Jackson and dance for him. Now my goal is to keep his legacy alive. He molded all of us dancers and it’s a way to give back to his dedication, his love and his talent. Michael is the reason I dance. He is the reason I moved to the U.S. from Paris. I owe him my career, my mental health (whenever I was going through hard time, I would listen his music) and especially my love for dance and performing." —Marie “Maryss from Paris” Courchinoux, member of the Beat Freaks
“Broken thoughts, broken heart. Michael Jackson was my Peter Pan, my first real crush and my hero. As a little girl, I remember watching him moonwalk for the first time in shock. It was like magic in the TV. He was always magic. His music is on every cassette, CD and playlist I’ve ever made. His music was always pure and changed the world. I never realized how much I loved him until he was gone. He is the greatest entertainer that has ever lived. All our memories of him are so similar, and in the end he was music. He is my music still.” —Luam Keflezgy, NYC-based hip hop teacher
“Michael Jackson is the reason why I love dancing. I was born in 1982, so I don’t know what music sounds like without his influence. I remember hearing his voice throughout my whole life. His death should teach us to always show love to each other. We are not promised tomorrow. I miss you, MJ. Thank you for creating.” —Ant Boogie, dancer on Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour
“Through the Bad and Dangerous world tours and all of Michael’s stage and live TV performances over eight years, I had a once in a lifetime journey with Michael. Onstage, my experience was unique because of how Michael integrated us in his shows. In many ways the experience for us was as close as you can get to being a pop star without having your name on the ticket. When you had the privilege and opportunity to work with Michael, you wanted to do your best all the time.
“Michael was a constant learner. He studied the greats and watched and listened to everything. Michael was a firm believer that everyone can make a difference.
“As a performer, Michael had the instrument, talent and gift, and against all odds he continued to push forward. In life, especially when he performed, he engaged one million percent. In that spirit I offer this quote from Michael: ‘Whatever you do, you gotta do it like you mean it.’ I can still hear him saying that and I take it with me wherever I go. Michael made it all possible and the incredible worldwide response to his death is testament to his passion, reach and amazing star-power.” —Randy Allaire, Founder/Principal, EDGE Performing Arts Center and L.A. DanceForce
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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