Happy Birthday: The Magic of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson delivered in music, movement and message. Lyrically, his verses spoke to humanity, social injustice, nature and even touched on relationships and love.
Throughout his career, he repeatedly proved to be “bad” and continued to “thrill” us all with his creative intuition and innovation.
Another notable when speaking about the King of Pop was his desire to make everything magical.
From lighting up the sidewalk while professing that “[Billie Jean] is just a girl who thinks I am the one” to tricking eyes with his infamous forward-lean and shiny-sock backward slide as he wowed us with the “moonwalk”, MJ’s style – dress and mindset- illuminated the entertainment arena on a global scale.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to experience the magic of Mike during Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil’s third anniversary weekend celebration at the MJ One theater at Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas.
In honor of what would have been the King of Pop’s 58th birthday, myself along with five other media outlets went behind-the-scenes of the Michael Jackson One production, following the show, to learn technical aspects of the Cirque-style performance along with the inner workings of the make-up and costume design teams.
The celebration also included the unveiling of his costume from the “Smooth Criminal” mini-movie.
The experience was mesmerizing and allowed you to feel closer to his art. During the Cirque show which included acrobatics, aerialists, dancers and MJ duets, emotions ran through the theater as he – in hologram form – appeared on stage during a performance of “Man in the Mirror.” As eerie as the idea may be, the moment provides something extremely special for those of us who never had the chance to see him live.
During time spent with a few of the cast members, Valerie Kimani, a vocalist from Kenya who plays Ngame the Mother Moon Goddess in Michael Jackson ONE, described what it feels like to sing with Michael Jackson multiple times during the week.
“It was really intimidating but it gave me the opportunity to create this character,” she said still enthralled by the opportunity to be a part of the production.
“His music…it’s amazing how you can listen to it [repeatedly] and not get tired of it. The thing that really strikes me about his music is that it sounds so easy but the minute you try it, you realize all the little things like the emotion. It’s really hard to replicate. I just fell in love with Michael.”
The feeling is mutual among many.
Throughout the show, my minded wandered to the times –as a child– when my older brother would have the ‘Thriller’ album playing in the morning before we went to school. In his room, wearing a black fedora hat, he performed his version of the moonwalk and took in the essence of MJ. When we visited our grandmother, her dresser was filled with perfumes that would become –for my brother–Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. The memories warm my heart.
Our love for Mike runs deeps. So deep, I introduced his movie Moonwalker, to my younger cousin and her eyes light up with fascination and become fixated on his every move. Whenever I visit her, a dance party to the sounds of Michael Jackson is always on the to-do list. ALWAYS.
When we think or hear Michael Jackson, we remember what he brought to the culture with his signature dance moves, how the music makes us feel, and the messages he wanted to instill across the globe: “Love is important. To love each other. We are ONE .”
Happy Birthday, Michael! May the music and magic live on through your legacy.