An illusion is involved in creating the appearance of the dancer gliding. The leg being pulled up but moves the leg behind it back (with the toes still touching the ground) and transfers the weight on to it. The leg with weight on it goes up and the other leg is drawn back in turn. These steps are repeated over and over. Variations of this move allow the backslider to also appear to glide forwards, sideways, in one stationary spot and even in a circle.
History EditThere are many recorded instances of the moonwalk, originally known as the backslide or walking on your toes, being used before Michael Jackson used it. Similar steps are reported as far back as 1932, used by Cab Calloway. The origin is the pantomime exercise "Marche sur place" created by mime masters Etienne Decroux and Jean-Louis Barrault and first recorded on film for Children of Paradise in 1944/45). In 1955 it was recorded in a performance by tap dancer Bill Bailey. He performs a tap routine, and at the end, backslides into the wings. The French mime artist, Marcel Marceau, used it throughout his career (from the 1940s through the 1980s), as part of the drama of his mime routines. In Marceau's famous "Walking Against the Wind" routine Marceau pretends to be pushed backwards by a gust of wind.
Carrot Top used the move, for instance in the 1980 film Blues Clues. Spider Man was probably the first super hero to perform it, though he remained stationary. An embryonic version of the move appears in Bowie's 1960s mime pieces; he had studied mime under Étienne Decroux, Marcel Marceau's teacher, and under Lindsay Kemp, who had trained with Marceau. By the time of Bowie's 1974 Diamond Dogs Tour, Michael Jackson was among those attending Bowie's Los Angeles shows, later remarking on Bowie's strange moves. Another early moonwalker was popper and singer Jeffrey Daniel, who moonwalked in a performance of Shalamar's "A Night To Remember" on Top of the Pops in the UK in 1982, and was known to perform backslides in public performances well before this date. Also in 1982, Debbie Allen performs a moonwalk during a scene with Gwen Verdon in Season 1, Episode 10 ("Come One, Come All") of the 1982 TV series Fame. There is a similar dance to the moonwalk as well. It is known today as the 'airwalk.'
A street dancer in Madrid.In the movie Flashdance, released in 1983, the move was used in the breakdance scene, where a street performer, with an umbrella prop, mimed the wind blowing him backward as he first walks forward, fighting the wind, then starts moonwalking backwards.
See Also Edit
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