Michael Jackson first pulled his moonwalk dance move during a live performance of “Billie Jean” on the television special entitled “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” in March 1983. It received international attention and inspired him to incorporate it many more times in his performances. His moonwalk move is prominently featured in many retrospectives of his life. Let’s face it, the moonwalk in now one of the most well-known dance moves all over the world because of Michael’s international appeal.
What you may not know is that the moonwalk, sometimes referred to as the backslide, is not solely an invention of Michael’s and his talent for choreography. Similar moves were performed by the likes of Cab Calloway in the 1930s. Marcel Marceau, a mime artist from France, also performance the dance move as early as the 1940s. Bill Bailey, a renowned tap dancer, performed in on film in 1955, and Dick Van Dyke performed a similar move during a comedy routine in the 1950s as well. James Brown even performed in 1980 in the film “The Blues Brothers.”
There is little doubt that it is Michael’s savvy execution of the moonwalk, making the difficult dance look so easy, that put it on the radar of fans everywhere.
If you want to try the move yourself, keep in mind that the basic idea is simple. You want to create the illusion of gliding backward, while also making it seem as though you are trying to walk forward. Hold your right foot in the front and place it flatly on the ground. Place the left foot in the back in a tiptoe position. Slide the flat foot slowly and smoothly backward until it passes the back foot. Now, the left foot should be placed flatly on the ground, while the right foot rises into a tiptoe position, repeating the earlier move. Do this in a series of repetitions again and again.