Scientists have revealed that pop icon Michael Jackson’s (MJ) gravity-defying tilt was a “clever illusion”. The 45-degree forward tilt in his Smooth Criminal video was invented by the artist himself, reported The Independent.
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The “mind-boggling” dance move was first seen in 1987 when the video was released but was repeated by MJ during various live performances as well. Many fans have tried to imitate the move but no one has so far managed to do it with as much preciseness as MJ himself.
A team of three neurosurgeons lead by long-time MJ fan, Nishant Yagnick set out to figure out the secret behind the dance move. They found out that most of the trained dancers could not tilt forward beyond 25 to 30 degrees.
In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, the trio wrote that while doing the move, the strain is shifted from the erector spine muscles that support the spinal column to the Achilles tendon. “This allows for a very limited degree of forward bending from the ankle joints, while keeping a stiff straight posture - unless you are Michael Jackson. MJ pulled off a gravity-defying 45 degree move that seems unearthly to any witness,” they mentioned.
Then how did the singer achieve it? A patent registered under MJ’s name revealed how he managed to do it. The pop singer had a special shoe designed for himself. It had a triangular slot in the heel which hooked to the metallic peg that emerged from the stage floor at the right time. Doing so allowed MJ to lean forward by 45 degrees without injuring himself.
The scientists added that despite the trick, MJ’s physical abilities were highly commendable. The trio explained, "Even with specially designed footwear and the support of the hitch member, the move is incredibly hard to pull off, requiring athletic core strength from strengthened spinal muscles and lower-limb anti-gravity muscles.”
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They added that new forms of dance inspired by MJ have started to challenge the understanding of spinal injury mechanism. The icon’s dance moves have pushed dancers from all over the world to aim higher.
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