Michael Jackson borrowed many dance moves from John Travolta!
Yes, it was reported in the seventies that John Travolta actually gave Michael some dance tips and you would be surprised at how many of Travolta’s dance steps inspired Michael and were basically lifted exactly and used in some of Michael Jackson’s most famous songs and videos!
We will take a look at just two examples today and focus on “Summer Nights” from the 1978 musical “Grease“, starring Travolta. The other example will be from the 1977 musical “Saturday night fever” and his performance of the Bee Gees hit “More than a woman”.
Michael Jackson did meet John Travolta and there are a couple of photos of the two together from the seventies. Back then it was John Travolta, who was known as one of the most stylish dancers of the age. He was world famous for his dancing after “Saturday night fever” and Michael obviously studied his moves and took a few for himself! Nearly all dance moves have been performed in some capacity in the past, so this is nothing new – it is usually the way in which you execute the moves and incorporate them into your own style which counts and Michael Jackson was a master at this!
First things first! Take a look at the first video “Summer Nights” (“Summer Lovin”)
Watched it? Good! Did you see anything familiar? Well… let’s take a closer look!
Michael Jackson Dance Moves from Grease (“Summer night”)
1) The first dance move that John Travolta does in this performance is actually a seventies move which Michael performed many many times and you could see on most nights that “SOUL TRAIN” aired. Either way, when you see the number of dance moves you might be surprised. You can see Michael perform the same move in, say, the “Off the wall” medley in Michael 1996 History tour concert in Bucharest. Go to 3.55 for the move:
2) Go to 1.23 in the “Summer Nights” video … “took her bowling” lyric. They perform a kind of bowling action with the arm and hold the arm strong. Any Michael Jackson fan knows where they have seen this before! Take a look at any live performance and the first few moves of “Wanna be starting something” and you will see how MJ incorporated this into his show with his brothers and added the thrust of the hips. This really is a classic Michael Jackson move and a crowd favourite!
3) Go to 1.30 in the same video … “we made out”. Well! This is a Michael freestyle classic from “The way you make me feel”. You can see Michael do this Travolta sexual move almost exactly the same way in most of his live shows. Take a look at this History Tour performance of “The way you make me feel” in Bucharest 1996. Go to 1.15:
4) Think about this, in just a couple of minutes of John Travolta dancing we have found many many Michael Jackson moves (or the other way round!). Now we shall look at some real classics from some big songs! Go to 1.51 and you will see how Michael took this move and incorporated into his live shows and performances of “Smooth Criminal“. He also puts this move in, “Billie Jean”, “Wanna be”, “Don’t stop”, “Working day and night” … many songs. Take a look at the move in “Smooth criminal” below (4.18):
5) In the same moment you will see Travolta do the classic “Billie Jean” combing the hair move! Yes… Michael Jackson took that too! (See any performance of “Billie Jean“)
Not only do we have the same dance moves, we also have the clothes!
Black jacket, black trousers, white socks, white T – shirt, collar up, black shoes (taken from Elvis and the 50’s) – All Michael Jackson trademarks!
This is only a short post today but let me give you one more move from “More than a woman” from “Saturday night fever”.
Before you take a look, have a look at 1.30 from the live “Smooth Criminal” video above. The holding the jacket and the shuffle backwards ….. yes… John Travolta too! Go to 2.50:
Two legendary dancers and I think this really showcases Michael Jackson’s genius. I will say this FOR SURE, nobody moves like Michael!
By Anthony King (c)