Michael Jackson was a massive Cirque du Soleil fan. He patronized many of Cirque’s shows, visited its Montreal headquarters and even regularly fantasized about a collaboration. Consequently, when he passed away in 2009, both Jackson’s family and the Canadian circus were ready to talk partnership.
“Jackson always said he would love to one day do something with Cirque. There was already some discussion going on, but nothing too serious. When he passed away, Cirque and the estate got together and had many discussions about creating a tribute,” explains Cirque publicist Maxime Charbonneau. “The creation of the show took about a year and half, from the original meeting of creators together. It’s the first tribute authorized by the estate.”
And what a glorious tribute it appears to be. Though I haven’t yet witnessed it firsthand—this Friday is The Pepsi Center premiere—trailer footage teases of a jaw-dropping hybrid of pop spectacle and Cirque flourish. Light rope-enhanced track suits give dancing in the dark a whole new meaning. An insect-esque contortionist turns the pages of a giant tome with her toes. Bleach-white mummies, some in spotless tailcoats and top hats, revisit classic “Thriller” choreography. A one-legged breakdancer dazzles despite his missing limb.
“It’s not your typical Cirque du Soleil production. It’s closer to a pop rock concert, with Cirque touches—acrobatics to Michael’s music. I think that most people will enjoy the production for that mix of two worlds.”
George Peele enjoys strapping on height enhancers and aurally ambushing strangers. He is Music Features Editor for 303’s print edition. Follow him on Twitter: @Orangepeelmoses. Avatar image courtesy Jonathan Shoup.