It’s Like I Lost a Childhood Friend.

I can’t even begin to choose the words that would express how much this person meant to me. So I’ll just write about a deeply profound moment that happened to me in the wake of Michael Jackson’s passing.

I, like many other people were in complete and utter shock when I found out the news. The man who is the reason why I’m so passionate about dance. I can practically mention an MJ moment for every single year of my life. We had dance rehearsals that night. I called my mom before we got started to check in with her and see how she was doing. She asked me if I was doing ok, and by this point I was already tearing. She went on to say,

“It was just his time. You know I still remember how you use to always imitate his dancing when you were little and listen to his tapes all the time. So I know how much he meant to you. He has a great legacy, and the fact that you’re still dancing now, that’s his legacy to you. Just take all your emotions and heart and put it in your dancing. He’ll live on as long as you keep dancing, k? You’ll be ok, I love you Ryan.”

That’s when I start crying, because one, everything my mom said to me is true. Second, that was first time ever she encouraged me to keep on dancing. Growing up, she never really fully supported nor discouraged my dancing, and I can remember her being only at 3 of the numerous shows upon shows I’ve done in my life. I felt all this time she just saw it as a cool hobby I was doing. So when she said what she said last night, I couldn’t help but feel emotional, to know she supported my passion all along.

MJ had such a profound impact on my generation of dancers. As children of the 1980’s and growing up being raised by MTV, he was the one who inspired us to dance in the first place. There was even a period of time in the dance community when every crew had at least one MJ piece in their routines. He opened our eyes to actually “see” the beats of the music, and the energy and passion he put into his music and dancing was untouchable. It was a revelation to the immense amount of personal tyranny and distress he experienced from his above and beyond fucked up life. I can’t even begin to imagine the shear lonliness of denied childhood, ridden with abuse and constant pressure to be the best pop star. The bullshit he had to take from the media and the haters who were working 24-7 to take him down. He was never proven to be responsible for the despicable and atrocious crimes he was constantly accused of. And with such a fucked up life outside of music growing up, can you really blame him for his at times eccentric behavior? Maybe that’s I always defended him from day one. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

He put all that pain, all that emotion, all that heart, into his music and performances. You can tell those were the only times he was truly happy. As a performer, I can relate. Nothing makes me happier than being able to be creative and dance.

Thank you MJ, for being my childhood hero and being the inspiration to so many dancers. You taught us how to “see” the beat of the music and put it into our movements. Your creativity, brilliance, and personal investment in your craft is the standard to which we base our own work. Your music and legacy lives on through our dance movement.


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