Born 10 years after Michael Jackson's Thriller album started somethin', Michael Cameron wasn't immune to its appeal.
"I'm a dancer, I was a singer, I was totally in the industry so I heard his music all the time," said the 20-yearold. "You still see little boys imitating Michael Jackson, putting on a glove and a hat. Not a lot of artists can do that where even a child of three years old can look at him and [say] 'Oh I want to be like him, he's so cool.'"
Cameron is living the dream in Cirque Du Soleil's Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour as one of 65 dancers, musicians and acrobats from all over the world who are performing more than 30 of Jackson's songs. Following three shows in Vancouver last November, the tour returns to Rogers Arena, Aug. 10 and 11.
The travelling dancer and actor who calls Vancouver's Harbour Dance Centre one of his homes performs in 10 numbers, including as one of a quartet of dancers and musicians during Beat It.
"I get to do the original choreography for 'Beat It' and get to freestyle a lot on the stage and do my own thing, so it's a lot of fun," Cameron said.
He favours the Smooth Criminal, Dangerous, This Place Hotel section of the show.
Dancers lean like Jackson did in Smooth Criminal, a female acrobat performs a perilous pole-dancing act while surrounded by gangsters for Dangerous, and artists slip into a sensual aerial tango for This Place Hotel.
"That's my favourite costume and my favourite songs and my favourite dances, as well," Cameron said.
Cameron followed his sisters into tap, jazz, ballet and hip-hop classes in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. at age five. He stepped away from dance and onto the ice to play hockey at age 14, but he moonwalked back to his first love after he tried hip-hop classes at the Queen Street Conservatory in Toronto. Cameron, who acted in commercials and plays throughout his youth, performed in the film Score: A Hockey Musical, and then landed a role playing a cheerleader in the Vancouver-shot TV show Hellcats. A successful audition with Cirque du Soleil saw him working to create THE IMMORTAL show. The tour heads to Europe in October, and maybe Asia after that.
Billed as a fantastical show that immerses audiences in Jackson's creative world, the King of Pop's music drives THE IMMORTAL. Musical designer Kevin Antunes gained access to Jackson's recordings and collaborated with musical director Greg Phillinganes, who worked with Jackson for more than 25 years, to create mash-ups, remixes and new arrangements that in some cases bring Jackson's voice to the forefront. The full band that powers the show includes Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett, who played drums for Jackson for 30 years.
Leading pop concert director Jamie King wrote and directed THE IMMORTAL, his first show with Cirque du Soleil. He's been nominated for multiple Emmy and MTV video music awards, served as Madonna's creative director for the past 12 years and most recently directed world tours for Rihanna, Celine Dion, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne.
Michael Curry, one of the designers on the This Is It tour that never happened because Jackson died three weeks before its start, hopes to trigger fans' memories of the late pop star with giant black-and-white penny loafers and a six-foot-tall glove that the dancers manipulate with their bodies. Projections of Jackson's performances make his presence even more palpable.
"Michael Jackson was just an icon for me. He's a successful artist and he does everything so I just look to him as an inspiration," Cameron said.
The young dancer and actor is starting to write music.
"I really want to become a triple threat," Cameron said. "During tour, I want to train a lot at everything and practise everything and hopefully move to L.A. or New York very soon, or Vancouver. Vancouver it's kind of a home to me and I love it there."
For more information or tickets, see ticketmaster.ca or cirquedusoleil. com/MichaelJackson.