Certain fans might believe Michael Jackson is still alive. But most of us suspect he'll never emerge from his coffin "Thriller"-style for a glorious comeback.
So barring a supernatural turn of events, Cirque du Soleil's the Immortal World Tour, directed by ex-MJ employee and dance guru Jamie King, is probably the closest thing the world will ever get to the second coming of Michael Jackson.
King began dancing for Jackson in 1992, and he says the Cirque show gets into "Michael's head" without dwelling on his "dark times." In other words, if you can leave the cynicism behind, you'll love this dazzling menagerie of dancers, costumes, and theatrics.
King recently spoke with New Times about the Immortal and his relationship with MJ.
New Times: How did you get to know Michael Jackson?
Jamie King: I had the honor of working with Michael in 1992 on the Dangerous Tour as a dancer many years ago. That experience was invaluable. Without it, I don't think I could have created the show I was able to create. Michael was one of my greatest teachers, and he taught me how to produce and design and create the greatest live shows [just] by being around him and watching him be a perfectionist.
How is this show unique?
Well, I think it is that fusion between Michael's world, the rock world, and Cirque. Imagine the greatest dancers and the greatest costumes and the greatest performers, but taken to another level — as Michael would have imagined it if he had the opportunity to work with Cirque.
The most important thing for me was to create the right environment. That was Neverland Ranch. Michael created Neverland as an escape place where he could be an artist.
For the audience, that's what they are going to feel is new and different. It's like Michael's world on steroids.
Will we see any of Jackson's controversial side in the show?
I made an executive decision — a creative decision — to not really go there with the dark times of Michael, because that wasn't the best way to honor him. For me, this show needed to be a celebration of the man, his legacy, what he really gave to the world, how he inspired and influenced the world.
What are you hoping the audience will take away from the show?
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What I thought about was how to make the greatest show that honored and celebrated Michael Jackson. I wanted to make sure the audience knew the man that I knew, the man that I saw, that I was inspired by. I feel like so much of it can get clouded because of all the sensationalized press that happened later in his life. But I wanted people to remember the great man.
And in that, I hope that people find reflections of themselves in some way, because I do believe we are all connected.
What were some of the show's challenges?
Well, there was no Michael. I am used to having the star there. That's how it started. But that's certainly not how it ended. In the end, it was more like, "No, Michael is here. He is our storyteller, and he is really guiding us on this journey through Neverland." He was there in spirit. His essence was there, and it is reflected in the costumes, the music, the dance.