Michael Jackson Impersonator
Michael Jackson Impersonator

Michael Jackson Impersonator

“Look! You are only a copycat of Michael Jackson. You will never go far with that dance style!”

I was often teased like that when I started learning to dance like Michael Jackson.

For so many years, I learned to dance by watching Michael Jackson dance videos. I bought every VHS tapes, VCDs, DVDs I could find. I slowed the video down, paid attention to every detail. I watched, analyzed, memorized, practiced and repeat the whole process. I even drew dancing stick man on paper to have a step-by-step dance guide for myself. I tried so hard to master every dance moves. I loved the feeling of being onstage and dance like Michael Jackson. Many people like my performance. But many others looked down on me, especially dancers of other style.

“Am I just a copycat of Michael Jackson?” I was hurt and cried to myself.
Deep inside, I know there must be something beyond copying Michael Jackson dance moves. But I could not figure it out. I performed a lot when I was in university. I came up with the word “Moondancing” when I was the 1st year student. I told my friend that I would become a Moondancer to experience with this dance style. I really wanted to show other dancers that Moondancer were beyond Michael Jackson copycat. I devoted most of my free time to practicing and performing. I did it with all my passion but I felt something missing. And I found that missing piece in a very sad and tragic way: lost of my dad’s live and broken love from my first girlfriend.

After every achievement in studying and performing, then came my personal crisis. Firstly, my dad passed away in early 2006. I was broken. I tried to go for as many performances as possible to escape that hurt feeling. I felt so lonely. Then I made a decision to have a girlfriend. I must say that I was quite popular with girls back then. But I was too focus on my study and work that I did not let myself involve in any so-called love. I often concealed my feeling or I would refuse any girl trying to approach me. Anyway, my girlfriend and I started dating in early March and broke up in September, 2006. She was my first ever girlfriend. I did not want to go into too much details. All I can tell is that it is a pure and sincere love. Just like crystal. And because crystal is fragile, so when misunderstanding and miscommunication happens, it broke easily in pieces. I was too young to handle the feeling.

But at that time. I transferred all my emotion and energy into my dance when I was onstage. And the most powerful one is when I performed “Smooth Criminal”. All the pain and sorrow. All the love for dancing. I brought it onstage. My girlfriend even exclaimed: “That was the most amazing performance that I ever watched!”.

You can watch my full performance here:

(Video coming soon)

Notice the scream at the end. That was my real scream. I didn’t know I could scream that loud onstage.

At the moment I finished my performance, I felt a really different kind of energy. It was much more powerful than my first performance in 2000 when I was just 15.

At the moment I watched my dance performance again, I was shocked. This is it! This is how a Moondancer should be!

So here is my definition of a Moondancer:

"A Moondancer is a dancer of mindfulness who not only dances to music but also expresses true emotion in every motion." Tu Michael

When Michael Jackson impersonators tried dancing like Michael Jackson, they tended to copying dance moves and facial expression. At first glance, you can see it resembles Michael Jackson a lot. But if you look closely and feel deeply, you can feel the emotion very fake. No wonder why other dancers look down on Michael Jackson impersonators. Behind those heavy makeup was not a real “you”, and unluckily for those who took plastic surgery, theirs faces were too fake and emotionless.

But for Moondancer, they are not copycat of Michael Jackson. Moondancers do not have plastic surgery or depend on heavy make up.

Moreover, a true Moondancer must master the art of acting!

Yes! A Moondancer not only dances but also acts accordingly to their true feeling. And this quote will tell you all about acting:

“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances” - Sanford Meisner

I was amazed to read this quote. Mr. Meisner is most famous for his teachings on acting. He used revolutionary techniques to get realistic performances from his students. This simple and powerful quote is the spine of his acting theory. Acting should never be forced. Basically, acting is reacting to something that happened to you. And the more natural reaction you have, the better actor you become.

Notice the phrase “behave truthfully” and “imaginary circumstances”. Wow! Can you feel how powerful they are? Let me explain:

When I was onstage with outfit and makeup like Michael Jackson to perform in front of live audience. It was actually an imaginary circumstance. When the music was played, I danced to the melody, lip-synced to the lyrics and even had facial expression like Michael Jackson. It was actually an imaginary circumstance, too. That’s what real Michael Jackson would do when he was onstage. But the magical part is “behave truthfully”. You can fake everything, from appearance to dance moves but you cannot fake true emotion. The moment I realized that truth, I was no longer pretend to be Michael Jackson. I behaved truthfully to my raw feeling under Michael Jackson’s form. In other words, my inner world and outer world united as one. People said my performance was powerful like Michael Jackson’s. But the truth is I just “behave truthfully” to my feeling. That’s what I would behave with my feeling, and that’s also what Michael Jackson would do onstage, put his emotion into motion.

The next question is:

How do you tell a good Moondancer from a great one?

Well, that’s a tricky question. Michael Jackson is the greatest dancer already, right? So, we must take Michael Jackson as a standard to give mark to Moondancer?

Best look a-like outfit? A+.

Best Moonwalk? A+

Oh, you don’t have a plastic surgery face, so you don’t look like Michael Jackson? B-

Oh, you do the sidewalk from right to left, not from left to right like Michael Jackson? D

Gimme a break, bro! We are not here to judged by marks like old school education system.

In fact, art cannot be measured and judged. Art can only be watched and felt.

Now, let me suggest a better way. We all agree that Moondancer is not only dancer but also actor, right?

So instead of asking of Moondancer, how about this:

How do you tell a good actor from a great one?

And I have found a very interesting insightful answer on Quora:

When you’re watching a good actor, you think, “This person is really good at what s/he does!”.

When you’re watching a great actor, that never crosses your mind, because you are completely lost in, and transported by, the performance. The work is seamless and invisible. And that actor is capable of doing that every time, in a wide variety of roles.

William Salyers - Stage, camera, and voice actor living and working in Los Angeles

A good Moondancer can "wow" audience with his dancing and acting skill. But a great Moondancer can make audience lost in their whole perfomance.

A good Moondancer only performs well if the audience reacts well. A great Moondancer is capable of performing every time with the same energy no matter how big the audience is, even dancing alone with the camera or under the Moonlight.

Now! Look at those Michael Jackson impersonators’ videos and compare with mine. I really hope you can tell the difference. Is Tu Michael a good or great Moondancer? Let the audience watch, feel and decide for themselves.

For me, no matter good or great, I will keep practicing and dancing. Because Moondancing is the dance of miracles, the dance of mindfulness. And being a Moondancer is way beyond Michael Jackson’s copycat.

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