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September 29, 2009
Music Scene

Behind every great dance move lies the mysteries of its origins. The answer to the question, “Who was the first person to walk on the moon”, can be pinpointed to a specific person, date and time, but if you ask, “Who was the first person to do the moonwalk”, the answer may not be so cut and dry.

A majority of people believe Michael Jackson invented the moonwalk. However, contrary to this belief, Michael Jackson did not invent it. So, if Jackson didn't invent it, who did? The first documented moon walk was performed by tap dancer Bill Bailey, who performed it in the film “Showtime At The Apollo” in 1955. Back in the 50’s the moonwalk was actually called “backsliding” or “walking on your toes”.  From the 40s through the 80s, French mime, Marcel Marceau, fascinated audiences by integrating the dance move into his mime routines. Similar steps are reported as far back as 1932, used by Cab "Minnie the Moocher" Calloway.

How did Michael Jackson’s name become so synonymous with this decades old dance move?  Jackson first saw it on the 1970’s TV show Soul Train, performed by dancers Geron "Casper" Candidate, Cooley, and Jeffrey Daniel. According to Jackson’s sister Latoya, in 1980 Jackson hired Jeffrey Daniel to teach him the infamous move.  Jackson later popularized the move on March 25, 1983 during a performance of Billie Jean on a television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever,  which later aired on NBC on May 16. Many will agree that Jackson not only popularized the move, he perfected it. One thing’s for sure, if it wasn’t for the King of Pop, the “backslide” may have been forgotten forever.

Continued below...

So where did the name “moonwalk” come from? Surprisingly, the term “moonwalk” was said to have been coined by the media. Beyond this, no one knows for sure who in the media can be credited with naming the move “moonwalk”. The mystery behind the true origins of the “moonwalk” still exists, but if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson, the term “moonwalk” may not exist today.
Other dancers observed doing the moonwalk include:

Fred Astaire, Bill Bailey, Buck and Bubbles, Cab Calloway, Clark Brothers, Sammy Davis Jr., Daniel L. Haynes, Rubberneck Holmes, Patterson and Jackson, Eleanor Powell, Bill Robinson, Three Chefs (only the feet), Tip Tap and Toe (feat. Ray Winfield), Earl Snakehips Tucker

Moonwalk Tutorial - Learn How!


MJ Moon Walk


Origins of the Moonwalk


Bill Bailey Considered One of the Founders of Moonwalking

 

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