The late Michael Jackson will be inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame during events Aug. 14 and 15 at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs. The posthumous honor to the King of Pop is the first time a figure from rock and roll is so honored.
Since the Hall of Fame was established in 1987, 43 dancers and choreographers have been inducted, primarily from the fields of ballet and modern dance. The ranks include George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Bronislava Nijinska as well as Fred Astaire and tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The most recent honorees are Broadway star Tommy Tune and New York City Ballet chief Peter Martins.
The Jackson tribute comes on the heels of a controversial effort two years ago to induct John Travolta. Disagreement and strife arose among the museum's board, advisers and management about whether Travolta, primarily a film actor, deserved such an honor. But there were also complaints about the manner in which the nomination was handled.
Everyone is on board for Michael Jackson, says Michele Riggi, board chairman for the last five years. That includes the nominating committee, which is led by Denise Limoli, a retired dancer with the American Ballet Theatre currently on the faculty of Skidmore College.
"We want to include dance greats like those already inducted but also up-to-date dancers known by the broader public," says Riggi. "That will help get people into the museum where they can be educated on the greats that aren't so popular or well-known. We want a museum that's more exciting and popular."
The August celebrations will begin with the annual gala to be followed the next day by the induction ceremony. According to Riggi, the museum has reached out to the Michael Jackson estate, but no word has come as to whether any family members will attend. Scheduled to perform an homage to Jackson at the gala are the Lombard Twins, a young Argentine duo who Riggi says danced for the pop star in the years before his death.