Now that Michael Jackson has passed away, we can unlock one of his countless secrets… the Anti-Gravity Lean in the Smooth Criminal video. So, how’d he do it? The answer is more complicated than you’d think.
The effect in the video when Michael Jackson and the backup dancers lean forward was created by special harnesses with wires and magnets. Michael wanted to be able to recreate the dance move/effect in the live show, but the wires and magnets would be too much on stage. Michael and his choreography people created and patented a new innovative way to recreate the effect onstage in 1993.
The mechanism consists of pegs that rise from the stage at the appropriate moment, and special shoes with ankle supports and cutouts in the heels which can slide over the pegs and be thereby attached to the stage temporarily. These allow the dancers to lean without needing to keep their centers of gravity directly over their feet. Check out the video below…specifically the dancer getting caught in the pegs and almost busting his ass.
The patent expires in 2012 – so get ready for thousands of imitators – probably not – well, it was still cool at the time.