King of pop returns

Updated: 2013-06-28 08:17

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

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King of pop returns

Michael Jackson never toured the Chinese mainland, but a new Cirque du Soleil spectacular inspired by the megastar's songs and dances will give fans a taste of their idol's live show. Mei Jia reports.

Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil is working with Michael Jackson's former music and dance partners to bring the King of Pop's spirit and energy to the Beijing stage in August via The Immortal World Tour shows.

Despite being one of the first Western pop icons to be embraced by Chinese audiences, Jackson, who died four years ago on June 25, never performed on the Chinese mainland.

Laura Silverman, spokesperson of the troupe, says this is the first time Cirque du Soleil has used Jackson's music and choreography.

"Working together with The Estate of Michael Jackson, we got access to all of his original tracks," Silverman says.

"Our show has a lot of Jackson's iconic elements in, like his dances and costumes. It will present all sides of Jackson to celebrate what an amazing artist he was and celebrate everything about him."

Zhang Rui, known as Keen, who heads Jackson's Chinese fan club, says the show will be the first "official Jackson show touring the mainland, which is very meaningful to his Chinese fans.

"The show is full of highlights that will make you feel Jackson's presence everywhere," Zhang says. "To us who miss him very much, that comforts us a lot."

Zhang looks forward to seeing the show's high-tech 3D projection of Jackson, video clips about Jackson and rare recordings.

"All those things bring him to life onstage," Zhang says. "It's really a once-in-a-lifetime chance to feel our idol's talent and to get his messages of love."

Featuring more than 30 of Jackson's songs, including the big hits and lesser-known tracks, the show is a mix of dance, music, acrobatics and original stage and costume designs inspired by Jackson's creativity and artistry.

The show's international cast, including 50 dancers, unveils "the secrets of Michael's inner world" to show "his love of music and dance, fairytales and magic", Silverman says.

"When it comes to Jackson, we only do the best of the best," she adds.

King of pop returns

Cirque du Soleil held tough auditions to select the performers. One dancer of Chinese origin has been recruited.

The troupe has formed a creative team with a number of people who were connected with Jackson either personally or professionally.

Jamie King writes and directs the show. King, who directs numerous high-grossing pop stars' concert tours, worked with Jackson on the Dangerous World Tour in the early 1990s.

"Michael is our narrator, leading us on a journey through his lyrics, his poetry, his visuals, his moves and, of course, how he dressed," King is quoted as saying.

Costume designer Zaldy Goco, who was also Jackson's exclusive designer for the This Is It concert, says Jackson is the inspiration for his creativity in the new show.

According to Silverman, a live band and singers perform Jackson's music. The band has members who worked with Jackson closely.

The troupe also invites 10 choreographers to mingle stage scenes and acrobatics with Jackson's dance moves.

Rich and Tone Talauega are among the choreographers who worked for Jackson for years.

Rich Talauega says he finds the combination of Jackson and the troupe an easy task because they both are at the top of their artistic disciplines.

Silverman says Jackson was a fan of the troupe when he was alive.

The Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil grew from a group of 20 street performers to a major entertainment business, with more than 1,300 artists from 50 countries. It has entertained and toured for millions of audience members in more than 300 cities all over the world.

"We hope we can create a show that he would love," she says. "And we received good feedback from his family members about this show."

Choreographer Rich Talauega reveals: "We have one physically challenged dancer who will bring a pretty amazing performance to the show. When you see it, you'll cry."

The show will tour Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong.

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King of pop returns

(China Daily USA 06/28/2013 page6)