MSA celebrates the life of Michael Jackson. We thank him for providing two decades of unforgettable opportunities for our clients.
He will remain an inspiration to dancers and choreographers for generations to come.
MSA is proud of all their clients who were part of the Michael Jackson This Is It Tour. They will always remember Michael, and are grateful for the chance to work with him.
Co-Creator/Director – Kenny Ortega
Associate Director/Choreographer – Travis Payne
Associate Producer – Alif Sankey
Assistant Choreographers – Stacy Walker and Tony Testa
Aerial Choreographer – Dreya Weber
Production Designer – Michael Cotten
Dancers – Chucky Klapow and Shannon Holtzapffel M
Personal Dance Coach – David Elsewhere Bernal
Casting Director – Gregg Smith
Video Design Contributor – Raj Kapoor
Michael and MSA Clients celebrate during rehearsal
Photo credit: Associated Press
Official Statements from MSA Clients who worked with Michael:
KENNY ORTEGA Michael was a dear friend of 25 years and a consummate professional. This was the most exciting collaboration of my life with a man who has inspired me like no other. He will be deeply missed. I am terribly sad. This is all too much to comprehend. This was the world’s greatest performer and the world will miss him. My heart goes out to his family and fans.
TRAVIS PAYNE Gone Too Soon. Michael Jackson has been and always will be the most influential force in my past, present and future creative development.
Michael’s true genius, grace and humanity have influenced me in more ways than I was aware of, until I realized that we had truly lost him. The distinct honor of collaborating with Michael Jackson over these past 17 years will forever be some of my most cherished memories and mean more to me than mere words can express. It brings me great comfort knowing that I never hesitated to tell Michael how much I loved, respected, and cherished him. I shall remain eternally grateful to have known this man, and honored to have been able to call him my friend.
Speechless, That’s how he makes me feel.”
Associate Director & Choreography Partner to Mr. Michael Jackson
“Michael Jackson was music incarnate. He was the most polite ‘celebrity’ with whom I have ever worked. He was loving, generous, and funny. I never heard him speak a demeaning or unkind word about anyone. Ever. I sat with him when he laughed like a child, and when he cried for being persecuted by the press for being ‘unusual.’
Michael literally gave me a career. He believed in me when I was a novice. He gave me opportunity after opportunity to collaborate, making history again and again. Almost every major accomplishment I have made in the entertainment industry somehow tracks back to Michael and the connections made because of our work together. As a choreographer, he shared with me cherished advice that I have lived by: ‘Never force your ideas on a song. Let the music tell you what it wants to be.’
I wanted to share the work I created with and for him, because in each of these experiences I grew immensely as an artist:
Beat It — Dancer
Thriller — Dancer
Smooth Criminal — Director/Choreographer
Dirty Diana — Choreographer
Black or White — Choreographer
The Way You Make Me Feel — Choreographer
Dirty Diana — Choreographer
Speed Demon — Choreographer
Sanyo Commercial — Choreographer
Grammy Awards 1988 — Choreographer
AMA’s — Choreographer
Superbowl XXVII — Choreographer
Bad Tour — Director/Choreographer (his first solo tour)
10th anniversary of MTV — Director/Choreographer
Blood on The Dance Floor — Director/Choreographer
I consider Michael Jackson one of my earliest teachers. I was so lucky to be able to learn from the ultimate showman – the King of Pop himself. He taught me how to perform on a grand scale and how to create spectacular and memorable performances that touch and inspire people. No one puts on a show like Michael Jackson! His death marks the end of a fantastical life, one filled with passion and artistry. He will forever be in my heart and his influence will always be a huge part of the concert tours and productions that I direct. It is because of Michael that I do what I do. Thank you, Michael for inspiring me and the entire world.
“I will never forget the first time that I met him… The most humble smile, and the biggest hands! It was an absolute honor to spend his last 3 months with him. And even though I didn’t know him for very long, the things that I learned from him and the strategy with which he put together a show is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I can still hear his voice whenever anyone got frustrated: ‘It’s ok, this is what rehearsal is for!'”
“I have no words that can express the loss of Michael Jackson. He had such a significant impact on my dancing aspirations and influenced me in so many ways. He is the reason I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a dance & choreography career. I will never forget my first job in Los Angeles, which was the film ‘Captain EO’. Just a year earlier I was watching ‘Thriller’ as a senior in high school, and 2 weeks before I moved to LA I saw the Victory Tour, then suddenly I was dancing with the biggest star on the planet. I was so thrilled and honored. His intensity, passion and dedication was remarkable. I watched everything and tried to learn as much as I could. I had the honor to work with Michael a few times through the years….and everytime it was a joyful experience, a total highlight. I remember him being kind, polite and very respectful….and I also recall when it came time to shoot for picture his explosiveness was unbelievable. His genius body of work will go down in history and will always inspire generations to come. His undeniable desire to be the best and creatively be different pushed us all. I will cherish the experience of working with him and feel blessed to have worked with such a gifted mesmerizing performer. A true legend who will be missed!”
“Michael was magic, pure and simple. He was a man who believed in the goodness of mankind and embodied pure unconditional love. I am so sad on so many levels. For the loss of an innovative genius and who was music and dance personified, for the loss of a man who loved the whole world and touched so many lives, but mostly, for me personally, the loss of a friend that I loved so dearly. Most people don’t know about how close I was to Michael for many years following ‘Moonwalker/Smooth Criminal’ because I was never one to exploit that, even to this day I rarely talk about it, for that was a friendship that I honored and respected as private. I feel compelled at this time though, to speak of my amazing friend, as a witness to his life, and the gentleness of his soul.
He taught me so much, both as an actor and as a person, he continually inspired me to reach beyond my boundaries. He and I spent a great deal of time, one on one, while filming ‘Moonwalker.’ I remember that he told me once to never rush (an emotion), that everything in life has a rhythm, and that it is the pauses and silences that speak the truth. He understood this better than anyone, he had a way of quietly inspiring everyone around him to be better than ever thought they could be. He helped so many, and inspired us all.
Michael believed in Magic, he believed that we could change the world, and he had such unconditional love that when you were around him, you couldn’t help but believe it too. He is intertwined in all of who I am, I became a dancer because of him, I became an artist because he inspired me to dream, and a writer because he taught me the power of moving people through words and actions. I love you my friend, and I know you are in a better place, we were blessed to have you for as long as we did.”