As the gates of Neverland were prized open, a powerful journey through the magic, the moonwalks and the beats was unleashed. This was the memory of Michael Jackson, which has lived on in the hearts and minds of millions since his death in 2009, envisioned by Cirque Du Soleil.
An infectious excitement sprayed over the Dubai audience  on Monday night, many of whom had been humming Jackson’s best beats as they lined up to enter the World Trade Center hall at the heart of the emirate.
Rock vibes and ambient acrobatics
On offer is perhaps one of Cirque Du Soleil’s most haphazard, most theatrical, most colorful tours yet. The Immortal World Tour is an eclectic mix of circus arts and pop performances, all in memory of the King of Pop. Jackson’s top hits being blasted through the speakers of a giant hall, along with a few of his signature dance moves, may enough to quell the fans’ longing for an MJ performance.
But the creative mind of Emmy Award-winning writer-director Jamie King ensured that during each song the stage was bursting with colorful choreography, mystifying costumes and themes, along with passionate performers that made the audience to get up on their feet and rock out to the live band.
There’s a group of performers draped in bandages for Thriller, Jackson’s staple suit, hat and glove were worn during Smooth Criminal, and the gates of Neverland open up as Childhood plays. It is a whimsical world Jackson himself could have dreamed up.
“It’s actually the only show that is in partnership with the estate of Michael Jackson, we were given access to all of his original tracks,” Laura Silverman, Spokesperson for The Immortal Tour told Al Arabiya News during a backstage tour.
“The creative team, which includes the musical director and musical designer, they got access to these original tracks and we were able to pull out the vocals and rearrange some of the songs and create slightly different remixes and then put the vocals to a live band with band members who previously played with Michael Jackson and toured with him,” Silverman added.
Among the 25 acts performed during the 2-hour show, Dangerous featured a pole dancer, Wanna be Startin’ Something had acrobats, four aerial hoop performers dressed in flickering LED suits perform against a backdrop of constellations to the Human Nature, while rows of robots stomped their way holding red hearts to the song They Don’t Care About Us.
An impressive string of medleys featured mostly choreographed moves to songs such as Thriller, Is it Scary, Earth Song, Rock With You and The Jacksons’ This Place Hotel.
Peace, Love, Compassion
The underpinnings of show are Jackson’s powerful, inspirational music and lyrics—the driving force behind the show. His messages of peace, love, and compassion for the world and others were portrayed through quotes from the star, his voice being played through the speakers, filling the hall with his presence. Black and White clips of him singing I’ll Be There in his early Jackson Five years pulled at the heartstrings of his fans who watched in awe.
Yes, The Immortal Tour probably caters more MJ’s fans more than those familiar with the Cirque Du Soleil brand. Still, two gymnasts twisting and balancing to the song I just Can’t Stop Loving You, along with aerial stunts for the Scream, shows that Cirque Du Soleil sprinkled its own magic ingredients on the show.
“I learned so much from Cirque Du Soleil,” Giulia Piolanti, Italian Aerialist from The Immortal Tour, told Al Arabiya News. She has been with the Canadian entertainment company for six years.
“I feel so comfortable in the air and on the floor. The way you can dance and the way you can express [yourself] when you are in the air is just like you are flying and people can really see that,” Piolanti added.
Fun facts about The Immortal Tour show include the cast having a set of 250 costumes, comprising of vibrant, at times flamboyant, LED-lights costumes, wigs, gloves and tap dance shoes.
The show has a total of 124 staff, 49 of which are artists and it takes 10 hours to set up the whole stage and 3 hours to dismantle it.