Tag Archive: michael jackson

Norm Clarke at the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote a great feature on a dancers formerly with Cirque’s “The Beatles LOVE” who joined the cast for the touring version of “Michael Jackson The Immortal.”

Cameron McKinlay and other “LOVE”ers chartered a bus to Los Angeles for the three-hour audition, making the trip in between shows at the Mirage. McKinlay is one of 24 dancers to be hired for Cirque’s latest show and the only one from Las Vegas. Follow the link here to read the story.


Michael Jackson lives on, and not just in the hearts of his fans: a pseudo-Level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. plays host to the pop icon as well. Several YouTube channels have devoted themselves to spoofs of this nature, portraying the King of Pop battling the King of Koopas and dancing to the hit song “Thriller” with Pikachu.

In addition to the Super Mario Bros.-style musings is footage of the video game “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker” (which was an actual game) and speculations on what would happen if a Pokemon trainer encountered a Michael Jackson in the wild. While some of it’s a bit low-brow, it tends to be in the “good fun” genre of parodies. The number of hours it must have taken to animate some of these is nothing to sneeze at either.

A number of YouTube channels have devoted themselves to building up Michael Jackson’s virtual fandom; the link here will take you to the first video in a string of about 35 but plenty others exist.

Auditions a la Cirque, 2011

There’s something that happens every year that gets dancers very excited, but it doesn’t have anything to do with a fat man in a Santa suit — unless he’s auditioning for a character role. Cirque du Soleil, international entertainment mogul, holds open auditions for dancers and specialty acts every year and these are among the largest cattle-call auditions in the city.

This year’s audition series took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 and was held at The Rock Center for Dance. The four-day stint staked out the largest spaces at the studio and included a plethora of dance styles, from contemporary to step to freestyle to locking and breaking.

How many dancers can you stuff into a studio to learn a combination? The registration team at the audition estimated that about 300 girls showed up on Jan. 30 for the the contemporary/ballet audition for females, which is usually the most well-attended portion. All 300 of those girls were funneled into one studio and taught a combination that traveled from the corner.

Traveled. Interesting concept, when space constrictions necessitate that port de bras consists of finger twitches.

True to promises made by the artistic team at the audition, the dancers were split into groups of two and each was given a few precious counts of eight to make an impression on the casting crew and a video camera. After everyone had been seen, the cuts began.

About 60 girls showed up for the street section on Feb. 1 and a fraction of the contemporary and street groups was kept for callbacks on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, respectively. Those that made it all the way through are now part of the Cirque database, meaning that the artist has information on file with the company and will be contacted if an appropriate contract opens up.

Krista Monson, the director of casting for resident shows, and Giulio Scatola, an artistic talent scout for Cirque, were present and pontificating at the audition. Scatola gave the combination and Monson gave the rundown on general information about the company. A couple things were new.

For anyone that’s confused about what exactly is going on with the impending Michael Jackson experience, take note that Cirque actually has two shows slated for creation. One will be a touring arena show that will hit major cities for a few days to two weeks at a time. The other, as promised, will be a resident show in Las Vegas that will begin in 2013.

For Vegas dancers, hitting up a Cirque audition is almost a rite of passage and being on file with the company is certainly commendable. Keep an eye out for 2012 audition dates and it may be a good idea to bring along a single white glove.

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Note: None of the photos associated with this post are of the audition space, creative team or any audition material whatsoever. For official photos of Cirque shows, cast members and artistic directors, check out their website at the link above. For a sneak peek of audition combinations … go to an audition, yo.

It was close to midnight, and something evil was lurking in the dark.

It was a mass of college students.

Just kidding.

College students and zombies alike congregated in a ballroom at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Union to learn vintage “Thriller” choreography made famous by the King of Pop.

(Find a link to my podcast, hosted by Podbean, here, for an interview with the two dancers that taught the choreography.)

CSUN, the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada (Las Vegas), is the student government at UNLV. The group organized the event on Oct. 21 for students to learn the original MJ choreography just in time for Halloween.

By all accounts, the event went quite well. Hundreds of people participated, many of whom were in zombie garb for the costume contest that was the culmination of the evening.

Erika Bruno and Alex Lum

Dancers Erika Bruno and Alex Lum occupied a stage at the front of the room, acting as in-person choreographers. Two big-screen projectors were set up alongside them, displaying Jackson’s original video courtesy of our good friends on YouTube. (The link is for the full video, story included. Skip to 8:28 for choreography.)

CSUN’s Director of Entertainment and Programming Chelsea Seegers demonstrated as well as organized, dancing along on stage and running around in equal parts.

Pint-sized b-boys from Rock Steady Crew were also in attendance, meaning that professors weren’t the only ones schooling college kids. (Check out footage toward the end of my video above.)

CSUN promises this will be a UNLV tradition. Hopefully they’re right — it’s certainly worth continuing.

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