Great Musicians Who Dance

Elvis the pelvis

The King: a quintessential dancing musician!

In my post about dancing piano players, I mentioned Cab Calloway’s famous dancing skills.  In my last post, There’s Nothing New Under the Dance Sun, I talked about James Brown. 

More Dancing Musicians!

In this one I’ll talk about some of my other favorite dancing musicians.
As I pointed out in that earlier article, the majority of musicians who play for dancers don’t themselves dance.  They’re always in the band when everyone else is dancing so often they never learn how.  When they do, it’s usually because dancing is in their blood and it’s natural for them.  Musicians who dance on stage sometimes gain fame for their dancing style as it perfectly illustrates the music.  

Cab and Elvis

 Cab Calloway and Elvis Presley are perfect examples of this.  
Unlike Cab, Elvis dances while he sings, not just during the breaks.  His nickname, Elvis the Pelvis, came not from his famous voice, but for his dancing.  He even does a little pole dancing while showing off his famous swivel hips in this example:
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Michael Jackson: Natural Dancer
In my opinion, one of the best natural dancers who ever lived was Michael Jackson, who came along late enough to get some of his inspiration from both Cab Calloway and Elvis Presley.  A great showman, Michael Jackson builds the tension and has the audience screaming before he even begins. Here he is giving his audience their money’s worth with his signature moves.
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I don’t know if Michael Jackson had any formal dance training.  He was already dancing like a pro at age 5, so regardless of any instruction he might have had, he’s clearly a natural dancer.  This charming clip suggests he was influenced by, if not formally taught, dances from the 1930’s
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It wouldn’t surprise me if he taught himself how to tap!  The moon walk, not an easy step to figure out from watching old videos, wasn’t well known before Michael Jackson made it famous.  It’s unlikely he learned it in tap dance class.  A more probable scenario is that he spent some time learning from the old masters and recreated it from an old film clip like this one:
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As I mentioned in my last post, There’s Nothing New Under the Dance Sun, great dancers (and pretty good dancers, too!) steal from each other all the time.  Without even changing the step beyond incorporating a tap step into pop dancing, Michael Jackson made the Moon Walk his own.
Do you have a favorite dancing musician?  Tell me about it!
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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