Michael Jackson is undoubtedly one of the most influential and beloved performers of all time, with a legacy bearing notice in practically every area of performing arts, most notably dance. An aspiring dancer tells you they haven’t been influenced or inspired by Jackson in some way, they are probably lying, or they just haven’t realised how deeply Jackson’s music and career has permeated popular culture. The world will likely never see an artist like Michael Jackson again. Or will we……..
Dantanio, skilled impersonator and entertainer, is the star of spectacular Michael Jackson tribute show, HIStory. Handpicked by the director to fill the shoes of the show’s star, Dantanio has been singing and dancing since the age of nine. With a vocal style spanning many different styles, Dantanio has studied Jackson’s moves obsessively from an early age, so well in fact that he was disqualified from an amateur dance competition for being “too professional”! As he prepares to bring HIStory to Australia, Dantanio took some time out to have a chat with Dance Informa about his journey to bringing this spectacular show to life.
Did Michael Jackson inspire you to take up dance classes as a child?
“No, I’ve always loved dancing and am self-taught. I know and respect all styles of dance.”
What was it that attracted you to Michael Jackson and made you want to emulate him on stage?
“I would say the musical genius he was and his dress style (fashion).”
What styles of dance have you trained in?
“All my dances are self-taught. I can do a little of ballet, contemporary and some hip hop.”
You’ve been touring HIStory since 2014. How do the audiences vary from country to country? Are any countries particularly fanatical?
“Every country has its own uniqueness. International fans can be very wild, and some are very passive. In Singapore, I had a very appreciative crowd. I love both kinds. But I’m still to experience the Australians and USA crowds.”
Are audiences sometimes critical of your performances, and, if so, do you think this stems from them being protective of MJ’s legacy?
“Yes, some fans can be, but I know they mean well. I always try to get info and feedback from the audience. It builds my character and performance.”
What is your favourite MJ song to perform?
“I really love all the songs I perform because of the depth in their meaning. However, I would say ‘Billie Jean’ because of the combination it offers in the performance.”
What step or song is the most difficult to pull off?
“For me, there are two iconic moves that are very challenging: the moonwalk into the spin toe-stand during ‘Billie Jean’.”
If you had met MJ while he was still alive, what would you have said to him, or what would you have danced for him?
“I would say, ‘Thank you for being you and never giving up.’ Also, I would perform ‘Childhood’ because it is such a personal song to him.”
By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Michael Jackson HIStory Tour. Photo courtesy of HIStory.