Source: News & Record – By Leah Hughes
The woman with the notepad knows every move of this show. She predicts when that dancer will go left and the other will break right. That jump was supposed to be higher. That person in the back was late. She counts every beat.
Laurie Sposit joined “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” in July 2011 as the dance master. Her job involves overseeing the dancers and preserving the show’s original choreography.
She and her dancers and the entire 49-member cast that also includes acrobats and musicians will perform at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday and Saturday in the Cirque du Soleil production that honors the life work of Michael Jackson.
Sposit grew up listening to Jackson, watching his videos and mimicking his moves.
“I was that kid that had all the posters plastered on the wall,” she said.
For Sposit and fans around the world who grew up idolizing Jackson, “The Immortal” is for them. The show includes more than 35 of Jackson’s songs. It balances his original work and recordings with new interpretations.
Musical director Greg Phillinganes worked with Jackson for more than 25 years. The Cirque du Soleil flair enhances each song. During the “Wanna Be Starting Something” scene, the gates of Neverland open to reveal “The Immortal” band, which includes Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, who played drums for Jackson for 30 years. The scene then brings in dancers and acrobats in tribal costumes.
“The costumes are great,” Sposit says. “A lot of them are replicating what he had in his videos and his style. … And the other side is the genius of the Cirque du Soleil wardrobe department.”
“Beat It” highlights a couple of Jackson’s famous accessories. A dancer inside a 6-foot-tall glove forms hand positions with his entire body. And a pair of 8-foot-long shoes made of orthopedic foam with a vinyl skin represent Jackson’s penny loafers.
Sposit remembers wanting a red, leather jacket when she was younger to match the one in the “Thriller” video. (Her father said no.) The music and choreography of Jackson and his sister Janet influenced her decision to become a dancer. She toured with Janet Jackson on the “All for You” tour in the early 2000s.
“Having worked with his sister, that was awesome,” Sposit said. “I never got to meet him, but working on this is a way to be part of his legacy.”
The show carries forward Jackson’s overarching themes — love, peace and unity — found throughout his work.
“I think the main kind of message of the show is Michael’s love for life and humanity,” Sposit said.
Sometimes sitting and watching the show is difficult for her. Sposit danced professionally for more than 20 years. But chronic back pain forced her to take a different role. She works with a dance captain who acts out the examples she can no longer manage.
But she likes this side, too. She occasionally tries to watch without taking notes, but she finds it hard to turn off that make-it-better mind-set.
“I never get sick of it,” she said. “I can go out there every day and go, ‘Oh wow, what a great show we have.’”