Michael Jackson knew the connection among sound, motion and color.
The late pop star put all three together for his concerts and music videos, spectacles that persuaded people to nod their heads and shake their bones.
Avant-garde entertainers Cirque du Soleil will make the moves for Jackson and shake their bones on Tuesday at the Times Union Center in Albany. In “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” 60 dancers, acrobats and musicians will perform Jackson’s best-known songs in an eclectic, electric animation that is part concert, part circus, part dance party. “Thriller,” “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” are all on the set list.
Cirque du Soleil: Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour
WHERE: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
HOW MUCH: $178-$53
MORE INFO: www.timesunioncenter-albany.com
Leading the way
“Michael is our narrator, leading us on a journey through his lyrics, his poetry, his visuals, his moves and, of course, how he dressed,” said Jamie King, director of the “Immortal Tour.”
The show, produced in partnership with the estate of Jackson, began its North American schedule last October. And while Jackson’s music is the main attraction, the costumes may attract the most attention.
In “Smooth Criminal,” the audience will see gangster types in dark blue suits shoot streams of sparks and fire from their gloves. The mummies in the “Thriller” piece wear white, shiny “bandages” that cover red, gory interiors. Dancers in multicolored outfits will light up “Billie Jean” — the reds, blues, purples and greens are equipped with LED lighting technology that puts flashes of light into shirts, hats and shoes.
Wardrobe chief Bettina Bolzer-Bowles makes sure everyone looks their parts when the show begins. She said dancers and acrobats make many quick changes every show, which can increase the wear-and-tear factor. “The LED costumes are challenging from a technical point of view because we have just one person maintaining them,” she said.
There are more than 250 costumes in the show and more than 1,000 pieces. Bolzer-Bowles said the outfits were designed to impress the audience.
“You don’t want to see street clothes out there,” she said.
In the “Scary Story — Is it Scary” piece, a contortionist dressed in a green skintight costume bends herself into odd positions. In “Jam,” inspired by the video Jackson made with basketball superstar Michael Jordan, artists play with basketballs in a hip-hop-inspired choreography. In “Scream,” acrobats temporarily steal the show by performing a synchronized tumbling act.
Bolzer-Bowles hopes people will be impressed by the creatures in the “Bats — Threatened” number. Dancers will first appear suspended upside-down — like their nocturnal counterparts — then spread lightweight paper wings as they begin their dance routines.
“I love those costumes,” she said. “They are technically amazing. They are great to work with because they’re really so maneuverable. They were not planned to be like that, they were planned as an accessory. Then the dancers started to work with them in the rehearsals and they worked really, really well. They could move the wings so they can dance with the wings.”
People will also get a kick out of the mechanical men that show up in “Dancing Machine.” They will look and move like robots. “It’s a very flexible costume,” Bolzer-Bowles said. “It can do any kind of choreography, it looks like a metal body fabric. Technically, it works really well.”
The show depends on Jackson to work really well. His voice is used on tracks, and played over live musicians. The full band includes horns, an electric cello and drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, who played drums for Jackson for 30 years.
“We want to remember what he did and what he did in music,” Bolzer-Bowles said. “He was one of the ones who started the ideas; he created things from scratch. He did something that had never been heard before.”