Science is serious business – from climate change to the coronavirus, the big difficulties are being tackled every day by the world’s best scientists. But science can be fun: Michael Jackson’s dance moves have now been put under the microscope, and researchers have really figured out what makes his “antigravity tilt” both reasonable and so fabulous at the same time.
If you’re not familiar with the famous tilt, check out the video for Smooth Criminal. At one point during this 1987 classic, the late king leans forward at an angle of 45° while keeping his feet flat on the floor and his back straight. If you ever tried to do this, you’d most certainly tear a muscle, pull something or, fall on your face, and seriously hurt yourself.
According to the paper, which was released in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, most people can achieve a 20° tilt, but that’s their limit; even the most skilled dancers tend to peak at 30°, so how the king did it?
That’s what the researchers from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, frantically wanted to know, so these fans looked into it. As it so occurs, it needs a blend of Jackson’s muscular trickery and some bespoke footwear – both, in concert, create the desired effect.
Not your dance shoes. Although not exactly a secret by this point, his shoes were specially designed; including a small heel peg or hitch, which would stick out and attach itself to the stage, enabling Jackson to change his center of balance and carefully lean.