The Pavarotti of dance? If only Michael Jackson …

Contributor Paul Parish weighs in on the Pavarotti question we’ve taken up here and, earlier, here.

But first, look at this! In today’s “TV Viewers Discover Dance, and the Debate Is Joined,” the esteemed Claudia La Rocco of the Times reports on exactly our debate, citing such players as Rasta Thomas (go, Tonya!) and Danny Tidwell.

My favorite bit is the very end. Robert Greskovic, the dance critic for the Wall Street Journal, wasn’t very impressed by Rasta Thomas’ “Bad Boys” outing this summer at Jacob’s Pillow, the first step in his grand scheme to attract the “So You Think You Can Dance” audience. And Thomas’ response? “Who’s Robert in comparison to the 16 million …I’m trying to deliver [to]?”

The familiarity and disdain in that “Robert” is priceless.

Well, Rasta, here’s back to you: We know we don’t matter, we critics, cuz if we did we wouldn’t be stuck writing about the likes of you and your “bad boys”! (Actually I didn’t see them: I might have liked them more than their shopworn name. Still, we don’t matter. Rasta doesn’t have to say so for me to know that much.)

Okay, to Paul:

I know I sound like a broken record, BUT we don’t have a Pavarotti because DANCE DOESN’T RECORD WELL — i.e., it’s not mass-producible, like a Pavarotti CD or video or PBS special, and so there’s no dancer who’ll be viscerally KNOWN to millions of people as Pavarotti was through radio, TV and CDs, and the newspaper headlines generated by his stadium concerts with the 3 Tenors.

The closest thing we’ve got is the very-compromised Michael Jackson, who’s A) probably a child molester and B) unable to dance anymore, but C) WAS the best known, most astounding, most popular dancer of the last 25 years. But he’d have to rehabilitate himself big time — bring back Osama bin Laden, or save us from a meteorite with his bare hands, before his endorsement would do us any good.

John Travolta might do. Might very well do, at least for people of a certain age.

Postscript, June 28, 2009: For more on the late Michael Jackson’s contributions to dance, go here.

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  1. Josh says

    “The closest thing we’ve got is the very-compromised Michael Jackson, who’s A) probably a child molester and B) unable to dance anymore”
    Very cheap shot. Nasty and most likely false.
    That said, if it’s a household name at least as (world)famous as Pavarotti’s that you’re looking for, then hell yes, Michael Jackson is the Pavarotti of dance. I’m not saying he’s the most talented dancer in the world (although there’s no denying he is superb), but certainly the most famous and with the largest following. He has tons of people from the entire globe studying and imitating his dancing. No matter how controversial he is, that doesn’t take anything away from his talent.
    I do hope that your including of John Revolting in this topic was a joke, however.

  2. Kent says

    Michael Jackson is not a child molester. Michael Jackson is unquestionablely the best singer in the world. Walk down any street in the work and ask 10 people at random to sing or even name 10 Pavarotti songs then done the same for Michael Jackson. We both know most people will easily sing & name Michael song and very few would even be able to name Pavarotti songs.

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