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Shannon Holtzapffel On Dancing With MJ
March 16, 2010, 09:21:59 PM
Shannon Holtzapffel On Dancing With MJ      
(13-3-2010) On April 15, 2009, three days after touching down in Los Angeles from Brisbane, Shannon Holtzapffel spent the evening in anticipation of meeting his idol. He and his fellow dancers were fighting through fatigue after three days of relentless choreography, and were perfecting the moves for a "Dangerous"/ "Smooth Criminal" medley, along with a step they'd done countless times in front of their bedroom mirrors: the moonwalk. Finally, Holtzapffel's wish was granted. "There was a big announcement, but in the Michael Jackson way - it was very mysterious, very magical," he tells WHO. "He was in the audience, but it was dark, almost pitch black. You could just make him out but there were all these lights above him - it was like a show. It was like, is he there or not?"

The encounter was a dream come true for the Brisbane dancer and choreographer, 25 - currently performing on Whitney Houston's Nothing But Love tour - who learned to moonwalk at age 3. Hours later, Holtzapffel was hand-picked from more than 5,000 applicants to be one of 11 principal dancers for Jackson's comeback concert series. He spent the next six weeks at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, rehearsing with Jackson until the star's "devastating" June 26 death. Since then, Holtzapffel hasn't spoken about sharing the stage with Jackson - as captured in the film Michael Jackson's This Is It — until now. He's confident Jackson's tour would have been a triumph: "He would've pulled it off," he says. "The energy he had was unbelievable. He was twice my age, yet he was hitting it just as hard as us."

Born in Delft, Holland, the eldest of two children of Dutch importer Lee and Australian Ticketek employee Delia, Holtzapffel discovered Jackson while watching MTV with his parents as a toddler. By the time the family settled in Brisbane when he was 4, he had found his groove and enrolled at the Johnny Young Talent School and, as a teen, the Davidia Lind Dance Centre. "I started dancing because of Michael Jackson," says Holtzapffel, a music-video veteran who landed his first TV ad at age 7 and who has performed with Fergie, Human Nature and Delta Goodrem and choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance, Australia with his choreography company, Project Moda. He turned down a gig on Britney Spears's Circus tour because it conflicted with This Is It.

"It was my goal and life dream to dance with Michael," says Holtzapffel, who graduated from Queensland's Sunnybank State High School before accepting a scholarship at 18 to the prestigious Edge Performing Arts Center in LA. There, he hired an agent and spent six years shuttling back and forth between jobs in Hollywood and Australia. While on home soil working as a motion capture performer on the sequel to 2006's Happy Feet, Holtzapffel was told he was one of 500 dancers given the chance to perform for Jackson at his invitation-only auditions in LA. "I was literally on the next flight," he says. "The first day, I rocked up early to see the first few guys in the queue were some of the best. They'd danced with Janet [Jackson] and Justin Timberlake. That's when it hit me - it was really happening."

While the three-day audition was intense, "It was good pressure," says the LA-based Holtzapffel, who has been in a long-distance relationship with Sydney Channel V presenter Renee Bargh for five years. "I felt alive. Performing in front of Michael was an achievement in itself, whether or not I got the job." Bargh, 24, believes the best man won. "It's definitely Shannon's passion and drive that I love most," says the model, who keeps their relationship alive via Skype chats. She joined Holtzapffel on the Australian leg of Houston's tour, having seen him for only a few weeks last year. "I find it's really hard to come by people who are extremely driven and know what they want to do. He's always known. And the first thing someone says when they meet Shannon - apart from how beautiful he is - is how humble he is."

Jackson's dancers launched into rehearsals eight hours a day, six days a week. "At first Michael wanted us to learn the steps on our own," says Holtzapffel, who relaxes by playing tennis or doing yoga. "It was amazing how we'd learn something and the next day, notes would come back with his changes. I mean, we were getting notes from Michael! He was very involved. He was the creator, the conductor."

Despite the tough schedule, Holtzapffel got to know another side to the ringmaster: "Just got hugged by the one and only," he tweeted on May 6. Jackson, he says, "was the most beautiful, caring, loving person. He cared so much about the world and the planet. He spoke about the subject all the time."

Jackson's main passion, says Holtzapffel, was his children, Prince, 13, Paris, 11, and Blanket, 8. "People would be surprised to know what an amazing father he was," he says. "He spoke about them all the time and they would come to visit. I was doing a segment with Michael, and Kenny [Ortega, the director] came up and said, 'Your kids are hungry, can I give them a turkey sandwich?' and Michael giggled away, saying, 'They're always hungry! They're always eating!' "

Holtzapffel was rehearsing "Dirty Diana" when Ortega told them of Jackson's death. "We broke down," he recalls. "We were a mess. The tech guys that work with us were burly men who'd done rock-and-roll tours for years, but to see them break ... it was a state of disbelief."

Today, Holtzapffel is in disbelief about performing with Jackson in Michael Jackson's This Is It, which he saw for the first time along with Jackson's family at the Oct. 26 LA premiere. "It's like, is that really me up there with him?" says the dancer, who performed at Jackson's memorial service and later attended a private funeral. "It's a great celebration of him. And it's a real representation. It's so raw."

Having achieved his dream at 25, "I feel reborn and refreshed," says Holtzapffel. "Michael gave me the opportunity to achieve my dream, but also to do so much more. What that will be, I don't know. That's my destiny."

 

Source: MJFC / MJ-Upbeat / t.love.com
Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Guest
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You rocked my world, you know you did
And everything I own I give
The rarest love who\'d think I\'d find
Someone like you to call mine




"Let us dream of tomorrow where we can truly love from the soul, and know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of all creation."
------Michael Jackson


Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. --Oscar Wilde

Re: Shannon Holtzapffel On Dancing With MJ
March 16, 2010, 11:11:28 PM
Darkchild;   Thank you for sharing this.   :)
Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Guest
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Re: Shannon Holtzapffel On Dancing With MJ
March 17, 2010, 12:04:17 AM
Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting and it again goes against those that say Michael was a frail human being who had to be helped down the stairs. Also - wasn't it stated before that Michael's kids didn't go to rehearsal? Maybe I'm getting things confused. I also found once again the time frame for rehearsing seemed very short. I liked what he said about Michael's character. Very nice.
Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Guest
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I'm proud to be a child of God and a member of MJ's Army of L.O.V.E.
 
"Press coverage of my life is like [watching] a fictitious movie...like watching science fiction. It's not true." ~Michael Jackson (2005)

"You should not believe everything you read. You are missing the most important revelations". Craig Harvey 3-15-2012

 

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