10 Signature Michael Jackson Dance Moves

From a piece of The Jackson 5 to the internationally acclaimed and recognized King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s dance moves have become an ideology for multiple generations of dancers and are no longer mere performances for entertainment. 

Today, let’s take a seat in our journey against the current of time and see what sets this legendary artist apart from everyone else.

10 Signature Michael Jackson Dance Moves

The Moonwalk

The Moonwalk

Moonwalk was originally a street dance, popularized by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” performance for Motown 25. 

However, not everyone knows the producers didn’t agree to have any new songs in the show because they wanted to pay tribute to the greatest hits of Motown Records.

But after seeing the ”Billie Jean” rehearsal stage, everyone was thoroughly convinced. The Moonwalk move only lasted for 3 seconds, yet it was enough to become the main topic of conversations after the Motown show and years after.

Its signature is the posture suggesting forward movements while the dancer slides backward instead. 

Thousands of fans and artists have learned the move and incorporated it into their choreography, but it’s quite a challenge to be on par with the King of Pop.

The Anti-Gravity Lean

The Anti-Gravity Lean

The lean in “Smooth Criminal” is as fascinating as the first time we watched it. 

After all, how can we forget this Michael Jackson signature move as the King achieved a 45-degree lean without bending his spine and straying out of a fixed orbit at all?

Not so long after the MV and the performance went international, the secret behind the magical lean was revealed to be a specialized pair of shoes. Nonetheless, you will need incredible strength in your lower limb and core muscles.

Without similar footwear, an experienced dancer can lean 20 degrees forward. And even then, the pressure on the Achilles’ zone is still serious and possibly risky to attempt.

Check more: The Ultimate List of 60s Dance Moves

The Toe Stand

The Toe Stand

Besides the Moonwalk, the Toe Stand is also a memorable move from the iconic “Billie Jean” choreography. The high cut of his trousers and the twinkly socks are certainly an indispensable visual part that we always associate with Michael Jackson.

Putting the entire weight on one set of toes is proof of exceptional control, strength, and balance – the qualities we often see in the most outstanding dancers. 

While holding this seemingly impossible pose, Jackson still sang and maintained an impressive activeness in his body.

Another detail worth mentioning here is how straight his extended leg was, even when elevated. It is surely a crucial contribution to the sophistication of the dance!

The Kick

The Kick

If you are a fan of Michael Jackson, you must have seen his signature high kick in every dance performance of his career. The kick always looks effortless and natural, displaying artistic grace and physical strength. 

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this move took his stage presence to a whole new level.

The excellency of the infamous kick also lies in the perfect timing. He often chooses the best moment to drop the move, so it falls in sync with the rest of the choreography and leaves a strong impact on the audience.

The Spin

The Spin michael jackson

Before the climactic moment of the performance, Michael Jackson incorporated his signature spin. 

Fans were and still are amazed by how fast and smooth his spinning was, a beautiful showcase of his nonpareil control over balance and posture.

The Spin refers to the 360-degree turn. When he performed a series of spins, it is more well-known as the Windmill. 

Some fans stated that his most impressive spin included 5 consecutive and fast-paced twirls. However, the impressiveness of each spin also depends on the effects and the follow-up move.

His precision and speed when spinning were described as “having the power to stop time”!

The Crotch Grab

The Crotch Grab

At some point, the Crotch Grab was controversial, though it would be hard to deny that it was one of the most distinctive dance moves of the King. 

The way he confidently placed his hand on his crotch and combined it with a powerful hip thrust was both empowering and provocative. Hence, the controversy was perhaps expected by the MJ staff team.

The MV “Bad” might be the first time the Crotch Grab has become so widely favored. In TV shows, Michael Jackson was sometimes only shown from his waist up to avoid inappropriate display. 

However, we still can’t deny that there is more to the dance move than sensuality. The King’s showmanship was what made the crowd go crazy!

The Circle Glide

The Circle glide

Although it might not be the most difficult dance move to copy from Jackson, the Circle Glide remains a testament to his showmanship and visual captivation. 

To slide and move in circles without looking too obvious is a challenge for any dancer, and the King of Pop certainly delivered without a miss.

The perfect shifting of weight from one foot to another creates the illusion of Michael Jackson floating in the air without trying too hard. 

Nonetheless, the footwork as well as the control over the rest of the body here are simply on a superhuman level.

The Side Walk (Side Slide)

Side Slide - Micheal Jackson

The next signature move that you might have seen countless times in all of Michael Jackson’s performances is the Side Walk. 

It was featured in live stages and concerts more often, where dynamic and grand moves had more space to show off.

The smoothness of the sidewalk can trick anyone into thinking that MJ was moving forward while he was heading to the side instead. 

The impeccable control he had over his footwork as well as the way his balance remained flawless never failed to catch his audience’s full attention.

The Robot

The robot dance - Michael Jackson

Jackson surely wasn’t the inventor of robotic movements in dancing, though he had an unmatched flair that others paled in comparison. 

From his time with the Jackson 5, his proficiency in isolated body control was something fans couldn’t take their eyes off.

The dance move is taken to a higher level when combined with his equally challenging moves such as the Spin or the Side Walk. Every little detail of his dance faultlessly mimicked the motions of an activated machine.

For a better look at this dance move, you can watch “Billie Jean”, “Dancing Machine”, or “Human Nature”!

The Shuffle

The Shuffle - Michael Jackson

We all probably have seen various versions of shuffling, though the Jackson Shuffle was an ideology itself. Via Jackson’s demonstration, the Shuffle was livelier than ever, seamlessly synchronized with his innate musicality and precise timing.

The footwork is significantly different from the slides, yet the rhythm of his dance is always consistent. 

One would say it connects with other moves in his choreography and boosts the overall energy to the point it drives the whole world crazy.

Final Words

There is no easy Michael Jackson dance move, and his exceptional skills will always be something all artists and dancers aspire to achieve. 

It is not only the athleticism that supports him, his uniqueness and presence as an artist also plays an important role. 

Have you ever tried to practice his choreography as a little fan or as an eager teenager? We all can agree that no matter what, no one will ever surpass the influence MJ has with his moves!

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