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From Fred Astaire to Michael Jackson, back on the origins of the moonwalk

Its tilt to 45 degrees in the clip, Smooth Criminal , its jerky movements in the choreography of Thriller , his swaying basin in the sensual Moonwalk , Michael Jackson is also famous for its qualities of a dancer than singer.

Almost ten years after his death, it is in the heart of the contemporary art exhibition Off the wall , in reference to the album Off the wall, which opens this Friday at the Grand Palace. Le Figaro back on the creation of one of not the most famous of the king of pop: the moonwalk. Also known as the “backslide”, this movement involves a step, slipped to the rear.

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Michael Jackson has popularized this dance in 1983 during a performance at the gala of twenty-five years of the Motown label. “The moonwalk was already in the street, but I gave him the prestige”, he says in his autobiography Moonwalk . The show, shot in march, was broadcast two months later on NBC. More than 34 million viewers will be reunited on their screens to enjoy the benefits of renowned artists such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross or Marvin Gaye.

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Michael sings first to the sides of the Jackson Five in front of the crowd wild, before interpreting one of his famous title, Billie Jean . Between two movements of legs, to Elvis Presley, he executes to perfection a moonwalk. The public acclaim him immediately, surprised by this hipped.

The moonwalk is not new, however. It makes its appearance at the beginning of the Twentieth century with the singers, Cab Calloway and James Brown, the dancer Fred Astaire and the mime Étienne Decroux. All revisit the “walking human” by small steps rhythmically toward the front or the back, movements of the legs frantic and sliding of feet in the air.

a Few years later, in 1955, the tap dancers Bill Bailey performs a dance step to the rear, which has several similarities with the one used by Michael Jackson.

Finally, the dancer Jeffrey Daniel of the group Shalamar performs a “backslide” in the show Top of the Pops in June of 1982. Slow movements and soft, it is the first to carry out the moonwalk as we know it today.

Michael Jackson has not reproduced this movement without many training sessions and a lot of perseverance. Or without a coach, even if he claimed that he had learned alone. The singer takes lessons with Casper Candidate, and Cooley Jaxson, two dancers he spotted in the show Soul Train in 1979. After many attempts, he mastered the moonwalk with fluidity. However, he does credit, moreover, never its professors for this result.

The interpreter Thriller carries out his famous dance moves in 1983. The next day, he receives a telegram from Fred Astaire and said: “I am an old man. I was waiting for the next generation. Thank you.” The king of pop has confessed it himself in an interview, “it is the greatest compliment” he has ever received in his life.

today, through the young dancer Salif Gueye (said Salif Lasource), the Moonwalk back in the street. The video of the famous dance performed by the young Parisian of 22-year-old has been viewed more than five million times.

Salif does the moonwalk Streaming

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