Michael Jackson is the first artist to win eight Grammys in one night; the first artist to sell more than a million digital tracks in one week.
His impact on dance has always been powerful that fans around the world have tried to imitate his smooth slides and spins and his trademark moonwalk, but they come out with little degrees of success.
But the very move that stunned the world is the gravity defying tilt he released in his 1988 music video for “Smooth Criminal.” In one scene, Jackson and a few of his dancers lean forward 45 degrees, backs straight, feet flat upon the floor, and hold the pose until they return upright with little apparent effort.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Nishant Yagnick, a longtime Jackson fan who practices at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India has said “It’s not really possible physically to do it, he was cheating gravity.”
Fascinated by Jackson and his seemingly inhuman abilities, Yagnick began to investigate just how the pop legend was able to accomplish his feat. Along with another colleague, Dr. Sandeep Mohindra, they published their observations from a neurosurgeon’s point of view. “How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics?”
Michael Jackson and his team invented a special shoe that would anchor him to the floor during the tilt.
Patented on October 26, 1993, the shoes “have a specially designed heel slot which can be detachably engaged” with a “hitch” (such as a nail) projected through the stage surface “by simply sliding the shoe wearer’s foot forward, thereby engaging with the hitch member,” according to the US Patent Office description.
“Very inventive idea of him,” Tripathi said with a laugh, “because even with that shoe, I am not able to do 45 degrees. You need a very good core of strength, and that strength was in Michael Jackson and his Achilles tendon.”
Yagnick agreed: “Normal people, even with the shoe, probably can’t do it. It takes a lot of practice to develop the core muscles, abs and central trunk muscles to get the strength to do it.”
“When Michael Jackson brought out the video and then did it live on stages around the world, people didn’t know he had this shoe system,” he said. “Particularly in India, where Michael Jackson is very popular, many people tried to copy him, and some even hurt themselves.”