Chatting recently with the great Tony Award-winning choreographer Donald McKayle (Raisin, Sophisticated Ladies, Dr. Jazz), a professor emeritus at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine, McKayle let drop that he had worked with Michael Jackson on two occasions. And he remembered one funny detail.
“He taught himself to dance,” said McKayle. “He could spin only to the right.”
This got a chuckle out of McKayle. Trained dancers, of course, in their classes, have to practice combinations and steps on both the left and right sides. But the autodidact Jackson was spared this discipline!
“I worked with him and his brothers on the Ed Sullivan show. I worked [for Sullivan] filling in choreography if the acts showed up without their own,”
Pausing, then again laughing, McKayle added, “I did a lot in my career.”
“I also did a piece for [Michael Jackson] when he was 14. It was a song for a [television] special with Roberta Flack, Free to be You & Me. They were in the window seat of an old brown stone; we had a trampoline in there where they could bounce around. It was very sweet.”
UC Irvine is planning an homage to Donald McKayle next March 8, 2012 to celebrate the establishment of the Donald McKayle Endowment Fund for Modern Dance.
Keep posted for more on that. Such a great guy and a giant of dance.
[nb., we ran into trouble on this post, McKayle told me MJ spun to the right, but on the videos I see him spinning left~! Doing our best here! Cheers, enjoy~!]
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