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Michael Jackson

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As the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson was the consummate performer, creating iconic dances to accompany his chart-topping music. Jackson was born the eighth of ten children in Gary, Indiana in 1958. At age seven, he began singing and dancing with his brothers in The Jackson 5. While the Jackson 5 experienced great success with hits like I Want You Back and I'll Be There, Jackson's subsequent solo career produced some of the best-selling albums-and well-known dances-of all time. He first performed the moonwalk for his hit Billie Jean, channeled a zombie in Thriller, and awed audiences with his patented "anti-gravity lean" in Smooth Criminal. With his signature gloved hand and white socks, Jackson mastered rhythmic syncopations and isolations, and at the end of the 20th century, he made dance accessible to the masses.

Michael JacksonPictured left: Michael Jackson performed Billie Jean at a concert commemorating his 30th year of being a solo artist at Madison Square Garden in 2001. When he coyly pulled his trademark white glove out of a suitcase, the audience erupted into cheers.

Michael JacksonPictured rightWith the anti-gravity lean in Smooth Criminal, Michael Jackson innovatively pushed the limits of his body's capabilities with a patented shoe that slid into bolts on the floor.

Michael Jackson





Pictured left: Michael Jackson's astonishing toe stand, revealing his bright white socks and loafers, lasted several seconds and generally followed the moonwalk.


Essay by Carrie Stern -- Selected resources

Related Treasures: African Americans in Dance -- Jazz, Broadway & Film