How to Dance like Michael Jackson

One of the most talented singers and dancers of all time is the one and only Michael Jackson. This is the man that created a unique form of dancing that is incredibly difficult to replicate. With impressive routines like those performed in some of his most iconic songs, Michael Jackson will always be a legendary dancer. Learn how to dance like Michael Jackson to all his hit songs from professional dancer Robert Taylor, Jr. in these Howcast dance videos!

Michael Jackson’s Iconic Dancing

Michael Jackson is a pop legend thanks to his music, but his dancing was crucial to cementing his legacy. Michael’s dancing was truly one of a kind, mixing several different styles like locking, popping, jazz, mime, tap, and numerous ballroom dances. His dancing didn’t flourish until the 70s and 80s when he became a solo performer and released two major albums: Off the Wall and Thriller.

To this day, Thriller remains the top-selling album in history. However, at its peak, it also allowed Michael to showcase his incredible dancing skills, paving the way to his unique dance style and the iconic Moonwalk. In addition to the Moonwalk, Jackson’s dance routines to hits like Billie Jean and Beat It perfectly symbolize what he was capable of. Michael is one of the biggest pop names of all time, but his dancing was certainly out of this world, too!

How to Moonwalk

Easily one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic dances, learning how to moonwalk may be easier to learn than you think. Watch this video and give it some practice, and you should have it nailed in no time:

How to Do MJ’s Footwork

The moonwalk wasn’t MJ’s only footwork! Let’s take a closer look at how to perform his footwork from other dances like Beat It.

Footwork Guide

The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure that your knees are bent. Anytime you finish a move, you’ll want to finish in a bent-knee position. Your feet should both be pointing to the side. Now let’s go over how you can do some Basic Michael Jackson Footwork using these concepts:

  • Without raising either foot, shift your left heel inwards.
  • Now quickly move it back so that your foot is pointing to the right.
  • Shift your weight onto your left foot and raise your right heel into the air, remembering to keep your toe on the ground. This should create a significant bend in your knee. 
  • This is the pelvis footwork stance. 
  • For a slightly different footwork stance, you can keep your right foot closer to the ground and a straighter knee. 
  • You can start this by shifting your left heel inward. 
  • Now move it back and have your left foot pointing to the right. 
  • Shift weight onto your left foot and strike the ball of your right foot into the ground, making sure to point it to the side. Your right leg should be mostly straight.

How to Do MJ’s Hand Gestures

No Michael Jackson dance would be complete without his special hand gestures. Footwork is crucial, but hand movements help to emphasize motion and create a contrast to lower body movement. While they may seem simple enough, it’s important to fully articulate your hand when you make a gesture to allow it to really pop.

Hand Gesture Guide

There are three main hand gestures that you’ll want to know when learning how to dance like Michael Jackson. This includes pointing directly upward, pointing in front of you, and a gesture known best as the Spiderman. You’ll need to make these moves quickly and fluidly to give them their full effect. Here’s how you can do each hand gesture:

The Upward Point

● Place your arm out in front of you and bend it upward so that your hand is around shoulder level.

● Your index finger should be mostly up and straight, while your other fingers are slightly curved and facing down.

● Focus on not locking any of your fingers and allowing for a slight bend in them.

The Forward Point

● Place your arm to the side or front and bent again so that your hand is near shoulder height.

● Do a quick shake of your hand. You can do this by rotating your wrist in an exaggerated circle.

● After the shake, your hand should form a direct finger point at a specific place in front of or beside you.

The Spiderman

● Curve your ring and middle finger toward your palm (like making a fist), while your pointer finger, pinkie, and thumb will all be sticking up and out.

● Bend your wrist so that your hand is facing downward when making your gesture.

● To do the Spiderman, slowly extend your right arm out to the side until it’s almost straightened.

● As your arm fully extends, begin rotating your wrist downward and place your hand into a Spiderman position.

● Once your arm is fully straight, your hand should be fully facing downward and in a Spiderman pose.

● To make the gesture stand out, you can also place your left hand on the back of your head.

How to Spin Like Michael Jackson

Another important move for many Michael Jackson dances is a spin. There are certainly many ways to spin, but the way Michael did it was special and gave his dances incredible flair. You can find his spins in just about any dance he performs, but particularly in Billie Jean.

How to Do a Spin

Here’s how to do a Spin like Michael Jackson:

  • To spin to the left, take a small hop and land with your toes pointing to the left. Your right heel should be slightly off the ground.
  • Now bring your right foot across your body and place it to the left of your right foot, slightly behind you. It shouldn’t be flat on the ground, resting mostly on the side and ball of your foot instead.
  • Now step on the ball of your right foot to help propel your body to the left. 
  • Use this momentum to spin yourself to the left. As you do this, rotate on the ball of your left foot. 
  • Once your spin is almost complete, shift from the ball of your right foot onto the heel of your left foot to finish out the final rotation. 
  • After fully spinning, both feet should now be facing in front of you.

Start Dancing Like Michael Jackson Today!

We hope this guide helps you understand how to dance like Michael Jackson! Explore the rest of the videos in this series below to learn even more moves from the King of Pop. You can find full guides to dances like Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It, and more!

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Robert Taylor Jr.

Robert Taylor, Jr. is an American entertainer whose goal is to spread peace and love around the world through music and dance. He has performed for Michael Jackson and with L.L. Cool J, Rihanna, and Kat Deluna. He was also a top 16 finalist for "So You Think You Can Dance" season 8.