Dancer recalls Michael Jackson's last day of life
What was Michael Jackson's state of mind 13 hours before he was pronounced dead?
"He was happy, he was smiling, he was laughing with us," remembers Daniel Celebre, who was a principal dancer in the superstar's This Is It comeback tour.
Celebre had been rehearsing with Jackson in Los Angeles "for three months, eight hours a day and he always danced full out. His energy was amazing, man."
In fact, on June 24, the last day of Jackson's life, director Kenny Ortega staged the show and "we ran through the whole thing and finished at about 1:30 in the morning," Celebre, a dancer based in Toronto, recalled in an interview yesterday at the midtown BDX dance studio.
"The feeling was unbelievable. Michael was at the top of his game. People who had known him for years said he'd never danced better.
"We even ran `Thriller' for the first time in costume and the people from wardrobe were in the audience crying. They told us `You guys don't understand how amazing it looks.'"
When asked if Jackson seemed tired or under strain, Celebre shook his head emphatically. "Every day he looked fly, but that day, he was better than ever. He looked young, man. His form was so perfect."
Every evening Jackson and the dancers would say goodnight to each other. That night was no exception. "We always hugged. I said `Hey Mikey, I love you,' and he said, `I love you too, bro.'"
And that's the last Celebre ever saw of Jackson.
The next day is a hard one for the 24-year-old to remember, because it ended a longtime dream.
Celebre was born in Nobleton, Ont., from "a large and close-knit Italian family." His mother took him to jazz and tap lessons at the age of 4. Soon he was into hip hop, breakdancing and his favourite, electric boogaloo, "which I tried to do just like Michael Jackson."
He did lots of club, promotional, TV and movie work, playing opposite Hilary Duff as the dance double for the male lead in the climactic scene of The Lizzie McGuire Movie when he was only 18.
But in 2007, "I stopped dancing, for personal reasons. I wanted to be the best dancer I could be and all people wanted were the stunts I could do. `Can this guy spin on his head? Can he do the flip?' Of course I could, but I knew I could be so much more than that and so I just walked away."
His father had taken over La Salumeria, the Italian deli on Yonge near Davisville, so Celebre joined him there. On April 10, he was "slicing some mortadella" when he got a call from his agent in California.
"I know you've been turning down every job I've offered you for two years, but you always said the only person you'd come back for is Michael Jackson. Well, you've got an audition for him tomorrow. Get out here."
At first, Celebre resisted, but his father said, "Daniel, you're going on the plane tomorrow. Hurry up."
He was giddy with excitement, rather than nail-bitingly nervous.
"Everybody else on the line was stressing out. I just kept dancing. `What are you nervous about, people?' I'd tell 'em. `This is Michael. Let's have fun.'"
They whittled the dancers from 500 to 250 and finally to 10. After he made the last cut, he met Jackson.
"I shook his hand. It was huge, man. He had the glasses, the hair, the black suit. We stood there and I thought, `You're nothing but love, man.'"
Celebre loved the rehearsals and hard work that made everybody better and better. And then came June 25.
"We were all sitting in our dressing rooms, ready to start rehearsals. I was watching a clip of Mikey doing `Ease on Down the Road' from The Wiz on my computer.
"We never had the TV on, but somebody had put it on 'cause Farrah Fawcett had just passed. Then we started to get the news about Mikey.... People were running down the halls screaming. Some fell to their knees. Everybody was crying. Everybody."
The rehearsals were filmed and will now be released as the much-anticipated movie This Is It on Oct. 28, but Celebre hates recalling the funeral, the memorial, "all those things that rub my nose in the fact that he's gone."
Celebre prefers to recall the first day of rehearsal.
"He told us he was taking us on an awesome adventure ... and he did."
Il ballerino ricorda l'ultimo giorno di vita di Michael
Com'era lo stato di Michael nelle 13 ore prima che venisse annunciato il suo decesso ?
" Lui era felice , era sereno , rideva con noi " ricorda Daniel Celebre , che era uno dei ballerini principali del tour This Is It .
Celebre ha provato con Jackson a Los Angeles " per tre mesi , otto ore al giorno , e Lui (Michael) ballava sempre . La sua energia era sorprendente ".
Infatti il 24 Giugno , il direttore Kenny Ortega mise in scena lo show , " provammo l'intero show e finimmo circa all' 1.30 del mattino " , Celebre ricorda in un'intervista tenuta agli studi BDX .
" Si sentiva una sensazione indescrivibile. Michael era all'apice del suo progetto . Le persone che lo conoscono da anni dicevano che non l'avevano mai visto ballare meglio ".
" Abbiamo provato "Thriller" per la prima volta in costume , e i costumisti erano tra il pubblico in lacrime . Dicevano - i ragazzi non possono capire quanto sia sorprendente - "
Quando a Clebere viene chiesto se Jackson sembrava stanco o sotto stress lui scuote decisamente la testa . " Tutti i giorni Lui osservava sereno , e quel giorno era meglio che mai . Lui osservava , la sua forma era perfetta ".
Ogni sera Jackson e i ballerini erano soliti augurarsi la buona notte l'uno con l'altro , e quella sera non fece eccezione .
"Noi ci abbracciavamo sempre . Io dicevo : ' Hey Mikey , I love you ' e Lui diceva ' I love you too ' "
E quella fu l'ultima volta che Celebre vide Jackson .
- Si parla di alcune vicissintudini rigaurdanti la vita di Daniel. Poi Daniel descrive le audizioni , dicendo che inizilamente i ballerini erano 500 , poi il numero diminuì a 250 , finchè ne vennero scelti solo 10 , i queli incontrarono finalmente Michael -
"Gli strinsi la mano , era enorme . Lui aveva gli occhiali da sole , i capelli , l'abito nero . Noi stavamo lì in peidi , ed io pensai - Lui è amore - .
Celebre amava provare e lavorare duro , ognuno faceva il meglio del meglio . E poi arrivò il 25 Giugno .
"Noi eravamo seduti negli spogliatoi , pronti per cominciare le prove . Io stavo guardando una clip di Mike tratta da The Wiz sul mio computer .
Non avevamo mai la TV , ma qualcuno l'aveva portata , e apprendemmo che Farrah Fawcett era appena deceduta . Poi cominciammo ad apprendere delle notizie su Mike ... alcune persone corsero giù in sala gridando . Alcuni caddero sulle ginocchia . Tutti stavamo piangendo . Tutti ."
Le prove furono filmate , e ora saranno rilasciate come film , This Is It , il 28 ottobre .
ma Celebre odia ricordare il funerale , il memoriale " tutto ciò che mi fa ricordare che Lui se ne sia andato".
preferisce ricordare il primo giorno delle prove .
" Lui ci disse che stava preparandoci ad un'avventura fantastica ... e l'ha fatto ."
[Edited by Trilly-88 10/20/2009 7:02 PM]