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Michael Jackson's Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil: A review

  |  December 31, 2013

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Cirque Du Soleil dancers perform on the opening night of Michael Jackson's Immortal Tour in Dubai. (Razan Alzayani / The National)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Cirque Du Soleil dancers perform on the opening night of Michael Jackson's Immortal Tour in Dubai. (Razan Alzayani / The National)

Cirque du Soleil's highest-grossing show (Dh1.25 billion since the premiere in 2011) started a 16-night run at the Dubai World Trade Centre Monday night. The National's Arts&Life photo editor, Olga Camacho, was there

What do you get when you combine a mime, a pole dancer, a one-legged basketball player and a dancing chimp? The Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson, of course.

The show debuted at the Dubai World Trade Center last night to an almost sold-out crowd. It quickly builds momentum and is its best when combining the two things youíd expect: the high-flying acrobatic moves of Cirque with the high-energy songs of Michael Jackson.

However too-often it has a TV variety show-feel to it, with simple dance moves that seemed miniscule on an arena stage.

A mime dressed all in white, who seems to portray the visiting spirit of Jackson, kicks off the production and makes appearances throughout the two-hour show (with a twenty minute intermission.) While heís very good at what he does, the bits seemed out of place in a tribute to the King of Pop.

When Jackson is projected larger than life as a young boy singing†Iíll Be There itís a sad reminder, not only of his amazing talent shut down too early, but of how he looked before countless surgeries made him almost unrecognisable.

A highlight in the second act comes when dancers dressed in silver robotic outfits, with flashing LED breastplates, fill the stage for ďThey Donít Care About Us. Itís reportedly the same choreography that was approved by Jackson and would have been used in his This Is It 2009 London concert series.

The high energy†Scream, with itís five flying acrobatics, Smooth Criminal, Thriller and†Billie Jean seemed to excite the crowd the most.

For those true Michael Jackson fans who were looking forward to what he was calling his final concert tour, this may be as close to seeing the real thing as you can get. The show tries to put Jackson in the arena by using voice-overs and flashing his image on up to nine video screens and at times it does almost feel like heís in the room.

Itís been four-and-a-half years since Michael Jackson died, but his legacy lives on through the show. If youíre a fan of the gloved one youíll probably love it. If youíre more of a Cirque fan, the show could disappoint because too often itís more about the music than the acrobatics.

*Michael Jackson The Immortal Tour by Cirque du Soleil continues at the World Trade Center in Dubai until January 14. Tickets through Ticketmaster, prices start at Dh221and go up to Dh2,295.