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Dancer shares Michael Jackson moves


Cirque du Soleil, huhhhh?…. 😉

Young Canadians get schooled by artist who worked with King of Pop

By Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald; Shunt@theherald.Canwest.Com With Files From; Canwest News ServiceApril 24, 2010

Daniel Celebre, centre, teaches  members of The Young Canadians.

Daniel Celebre, centre, teaches members of The Young Canadians.

Photograph by: Ted Jacob, Calgary Herald, Calgary Herald; Shunt@theherald.Canwest.Com With Files From; Canwest News Service

Between lunch rushes at his dad’s southern Ontario deli where he worked making sandwiches, dancer Daniel Celebre sent his agent a message.

Frustrated by the vagaries of showbiz, his love of dance diminished by the challenge of trying to earn a living at it, Celebre had a better idea.

He would still dance. He had a gang of fellow dancers who got together every day to dance — and every day that Celebre danced was a good day.

He would just do something else for money, like make sandwiches at his dad’s deli.

Hence the call to the agent, who, besides booking him work on a few TV commercials and 2003’s Honey and The Lizzy McGuire Movie, wasn’t booking him much.

“I told my agent, unless Prince or Michael calls, don’t call me anymore,” Celebre says.

Then, Celebre went back to making his sandwiches.

A few weeks later, his agent called back.

“He said, ‘Dan, I know you told me not to call you unless Prince or Michael calls,’ ” Celebre says, recalling the moment. ” ‘So I’m calling you because Michael called.’ ”

Yes. That Michael.

It was the early days of 2009, and Michael Jackson was crewing up to prepare for the 50 London concerts he had contracted to do for his big comeback tour. It was a Friday afternoon. Celebre was intrigued enough to call Los Angeles, where he was invited to audition to join Jackson’s tour as a dancer. The auditions were the following Monday, in LA.

Celebre hung up the phone, unsure he wanted to make the trip.

L.A. was a long way to go just to hear one more round of “thanks, but no thanks.”

Luckily for Celebre, his father viewed the phone call for exactly what it was: the opportunity of his 24-year-old son’s lifetime.

“When I told my dad, ‘Yeah, I don’t know man, I gotta think,’ he said, ‘What the hell you thinking about? Get up. Go home. Get your stuff and get on that plane!’

“So it was him who said, ‘It’s not every day Michael Jackson has an audition.’ ”

Celebre made it to the audition — along with dozens of others — with one objective.

“My sole intention was just to perform a solo onstage for Michael Jackson.

“Of course, deep inside, I wanted it, but my primary thing was just to dance in front of him and see if he recognized the style in which I’ve practised for the last 10 years, which was a style called Electric Boogaloo — which I actually learned from the people who taught him,” Celebre says.

Jackson watched the auditioning dancers, then singled Celebre out to one of his assistants. Apparently, Celebre’s mixture of classical and street style conjured up a vintage description from Jackson.

“He called me a badass Gene Kelly,” Celebre says. Or, more precisely, “Gene Kelly behind bars.”

Celebre was hired, and spent 12 weeks training with the King of Pop — for a tour that never happened — and can be seen in the hit documentary about the ill-fated show, This Is It!

Calgary’s Young Canadians got a dose of Celebre’s moves last weekend, when he spent several days teaching them Jackson’s unforgettable style, in preparation for this summer’s upcoming Stampede Grandstand Show.

The connecting thread between Celebre and the Young Canadians is Brian Foley, the Grandstand Show choreographer who has also taught Celebre since he was four.

“We’re doing a big Michael segment in the Grandstand Show this year,” says Foley,

“And of course, Daniel trained with Michael Jackson for over 12 weeks, getting ready for the tour. He’s bringing to town the real Michael Jackson style and look.”

For Celebre, training a new generation of dancers in the ways of Michael Jackson feels to him like his destiny.

“Pretty much my whole life — from the experience I had with Michael on — is to pass on Mike’s messages,” Celebre says. “And help them (younger dancers) understand.”

As far as the deli life goes, Celebre has left that behind. He’s relocated to L.A., and has been working with Travis Payne, Jackson’s former choreographer, who has been getting him a lot of work.

One new gig he may soon be landing could potentially be with Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil, who announced Tuesday that their next show will be based on the music and songs of Jackson.

“I’ve been living on Cloud Nine for a while now, and I’m trying not to let it rain, so I fall out of the clouds,” Celebre says happily.

“Trying to stay up in there.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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