Experts Reveal How Michael Jackson Did His Iconic 'Smooth Criminal' Lean

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Experts Reveal How Michael Jackson Did His Iconic 'Smooth Criminal' Lean

During his career, Michael Jackson wowed audiences with not only his voice but also his incredible dance moves.

He inspired a generation of people with the Moon Walk, the crotch grab, his dizzying spins, the Jackson kick, the toe stand, and, of course, that gravity-defying lean seen in 'Smooth Criminal'.

The question of how the hell the King of Pop managed to pull off that move - at least, without snapping his Achilles tendon - has finally been answered.


If you're unfamiliar with it, now's the time to change that because it's amazing. It's the point during the music video where the singer, after asking if Annie's okay for the millionth time, leans his whole body further sideways than any normal human should possibly go.

However, it wasn't just Jackson who pulled off the ridiculous move, but also four other dancers - so it can't have been just MJ's secret.

While Jackson could pull off a lot of interesting things with his body, this particular move simply can't be done without a little help, and now we have proof.

Researchers have looked into the gravity defying lean and come to the conclusion that the dancer's shoes were fitted with a heel that latched onto a nail on the floor, effectively anchoring them in place and giving them the strength and security to move.

Credit: Manjul Tripathi
Credit: Manjul Tripathi

Manjul Tripathi and colleagues from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India wrote in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine: "Most trained dancers with strong core strength will reach a maximum of 25 to 30 degrees of forward bending while performing this action.

"MJ pulled off a gravity-defying 45 degree move that seems unearthly to any witness."

Before they developed this cheeky shoe design, Jackson relied on cables above to hold him as he lifted onto his toes. But, before you start hammering nails into your floor and carving a slit in your shoe's heel, the 'Smooth Criminal' lean can't be done by just anyone.


Dr Tripathi said: "Several MJ fans, including the authors, have tried to copy this move and failed, often injuring themselves in their endeavours.

"The chances of injury to the ankle are significant. You need strong core muscles and good support around the ankle. It's not a simple trick."

There go my Bank Holiday weekend plans.


While it takes a bit of the magic and mystery away from one of MJ's most iconic dance moves, it finally answers that question that's been bugging people since the video was released.

Featured Image Credit: Michael Jackson

Topics: Entertainment, Investigation, Music, Research, Interesting, Michael Jackson

Stewart Perrie
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