With a black, felt fedora tipped forward covering his eyes, he watches as his black leather shoes glide backwards across the stage. He stops on his toes, knees extended forwards with one hand on the brim of his fedora and the other red leather jacket-covered arm reaches toward the crowd.
It’s the iconic move of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, executed to perfection by Jackson impersonator Dantanio as part of the Michael Jackson HIStory Show, coming to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre July 24.
Dantanio — a musician, composer, producer, dancer, and impersonator — joined the production recently, bringing with him an established love for Jackson and career-full of MJ references stretching back to his childhood.
“I was first introduced to Michael Jackson’s music at age nine watching my brother dance to Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Dantanio said.
The show honours the life and music of Jackson, and includes more than 20 of Jackson’s hits spanning his career, including Billie Jean, Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Bad, Bead It, ABC, and They Don’t Really Care About Us, all reconstructed with the iconic costumes and dances for authenticity.
“My favourite albums and era would be Bad and Dangerous,” Dantanio said. “The sonic sound and quality of production is really pristine on these.”
Given the fame and unique characteristics, sound, and image surrounding Jackson, it’s a difficult role to fill. But that’s why Dantanio loves it.
“Michael Jackson’s level of perfection and drive in everything he did is what really makes him stand out above the rest for me,” Dantanio said of Jackson as a performer.
Born and raised in South Africa, Dantanio has developed a vocal repertoire that includes pop, R&B, jazz, and reggae, evident on his two solo albums. At the age of 16, Dantanio competed in an amateur dance competition where he was ejected, as the judges deemed him to be of a professional standard.
His solo work didn’t go unnoticed, and in 2014 when the role as Jackson in the Michael Jackson HIStory Show opened up, Dantanio was scouted by the show’s director to portray his idol.
And it’s an experience Dantanio has loved.
“(It’s) an exhilarating, high-paced show expressed through song and dance,” he said. “(I love) sharing my talent as a performer and seeing the reaction of the fans with each song. They really inspire me.”
But for Dantanio, it’s all about honouring his idol.
“The Michael Jackson HIStory Show is a must-see for all fans,” Dantanio said. “It’s more than a tribute — it’s a celebration of the greatest performer of all time. It humbles me to be South African and to be part of such a huge production and show.”
Showtime Australia presents the Michael Jackson HIStory Show at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre July 24 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $59 adults and $30 for children 13 and under from the Ticket Seller, www.ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469. Group discounts available, call the box office for more information.