Induction National Museum of Dance
“A Special Affair”

Written and photographed by Elizabeth Olney- cawobeth

Saturday October 16th 2010

I had the opportunity and privilege to attend the induction of Michael Jackson to The National Museum of Dance, in Saratoga Springs, NY. My original purpose for going was to hand out factual information regarding Michael’s innocence of allegations because a dark cloud still looms over his legacy due to the perverse sensationalism of media. As it turned out, the fanatical “religious” group who threatened to protest this high honor to Michael did not show up. I don’t know if this was because this particular group is known to make a lot of noise and fail to act on their words or because the museum happens to be situated next door to a NY State police station. I like to think that all the fellow supporters who sent letters opposing this threat penetrated through the ignorant attitudes of the group.

Thanks be to God, Michael, Marlon Jackson, contributing artists, the employees, volunteers, supporters, board and founder of the museum, Honorable MaryLou Whitney, the event was a glorious success. It was an especially pleasurable evening.

The entrance was fit for only one king.

Nothing about this event was too elaborate, grandiose or superficial. It was a class scene from the decor to the exhibit; in good taste that I feel sure Michael would appreciate.

As I gazed at the seven tall cone-shaped vases of lilies and roses, that adorned the front porch and entrance to the event area, I envisioned open triangles. I thought of seven features of life that offer hope for the future. To me, the elegant vases were glorious symbols which represented history/legend, dance, music, the unifying force of The Arts, creativity, peace and love; all in the spirit of one man who has glorified all of this with every dance step and synthesized note of his song(s).

We were a small, sold-out crowd of, I’d guess, about 120 guests. As prestigious supporters of the museum gathered inside for Marlon’s press-release, the rest of us congregated on the porch out front, where we were greeted with champagne, friendly smiles and the upbeat notes of Michael’s music. It was great to see familiar bracelets from the Million Trees for Michael group, of The American Forests Organization. This was a fun way to actually meet Facebook friends. I noticed Kim Bailey amongst three other ladies wearing the bracelets. We hugged and she showed me the proposal display for the museum’s MJ garden project. She has been working along-side of Rena, of Rena’s Fine Flowers, and MJ fans in order for the design to come to fruition.

The garden is to be in front of the museum which had a vase of flowers from Rena on behalf of MJ fans, beneath the mosaic horses sculpture for the event. When it came time to proceed inside, most guests went to the hallway of the featured exhibit. There are paintings and framed memorabilia on one side facing a mural, four video screens and a 3D Thriller display along the opposite wall. The screens showed This Is It, Black and White, Thriller and early TV shows of The Jackson Five. The exhibit will be up for one year until the next induction.

It was a little mind-blowing to see little Michael in his purple hat, singing “I Want You Back”. having seen The Jackson Five debut, on The Ed Sullivan Show, over 40 years ago. That beautiful vibrato, uncanny sense of phrasing and natural synchronization of full-body rhythm only to be perfected by Michael, over the years.

Onlookers were as astounded then, as we are today. Since I had seen the exhibit, when I toured the museum three days before, I decided to go see Marlon. I’ll never forget what he said at the LA memorial. “We would never understand what he endured…How much pain can one take ?” I was somewhat hesitant to approach him as I realized that many others cared to greet him also. As I stood near him, next thing I knew, he stepped up to me, with his hand out-stretched and introduced himself.

A little taken aback, it was truly a pleasure to meet Marlon and come to know how affable he is. We spoke briefly and later I introduced him to Kim Bailey. He was obviously grateful for what she is doing for the garden in honor of his brother.

The charming and lovely MaryLou Whitney also graced the evening. She founded this museum which is the only museum, in The USA, solely dedicated to dance. Fred Astaire was the museum’s first inductee, in 1987. Incidentally, Fred Astaire’s words for Michael were, ”I didn’t want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was. Thank you Michael.”

Tasty hors d’oeuvres were served as everyone shared their reflections in awe of Michael; dancer extraordinaire of the hour. Utmost respect and love radiated the atmosphere.

As I was talking with a fellow artist, Assist. Director Sarah Weaver let us know that the ceremony was about to begin. Everyone there was so friendly. I went up next to the stage because most people had already situated themselves facing it. This turned out to be good for photographing purposes

Dancers Martin & Facundo Lombard, of Buenos Aires, were fantastic. It was quite apparent, from their astounding performance, that they both have a deeper understanding of Michael’s choreography than just mastering his steps. Both men expressed much gratitude for MJ’s influence of their dance style and ability.

The Lombard Brothers dance performance-

We were given quite a treat for this event. Since Marlon had not attended the gala, the night before, both pairs of dancers returned to perform a second time in his honor. Dance Instructors, Iraida Volodina and Ricardo Sopin, known for Dancing With the Stars, also danced superbly. This couple gave us many moments of surprise with contrasting moves of finesse and dramatics.

Museum President Michelle Ricci then took the stage and read a letter from Mrs. Jackson. At one point, Mrs. Ricci had to hesitate in order not to start crying. In the letter, Mrs. Jackson expresses gratitude for the honor given to her son and mentioned that Prince, Paris and Blanket also said thank you. A huge crystal bowl, from the new Waterford Crystal plant in Ireland, was then offered to Mrs. Jackson. This bowl is the very first commemorative piece inscribed by the company’s new site. It was as if Michael giggled when Mrs. Ricci suggested that it could be filled with candy. The Michael Jackson poster, designed for permanent display was then unveiled. At this point, I think Michael would have cried had he been able to personally accept his place in The National Museum of Dance.

Marlon graciously accepted this honor, on behalf of Michael, and then gave us a wonderful speech. The highlights were when he spoke of children. He told us stories about when he and Michael visited children in hospitals together when The Jackson Five toured. Tears welled-up in me and dripped as he said, “…and then he uh, started a place where kids could come and dream”. The somber mood-swing in the room was lifted again when he went on to say that he has a project underway building playgrounds. He gave us a direct glimpse of how grateful, loving and philanthropic The Jackson Family is.

The beginning including highlight of Marlon’s speech-

Again, I am grateful to Marlon for speaking of the painful truth of Michael rather than speaking as if everything has been all lovey-dovey and glorifying for Michael.

The ceremony ended with people hugging, taking more photos and exchanging contact information.

I was left in a daze after Marlon spoke . . .

. . . I said my good-byes to a few new friends and gathered a few fallen rose petals.

Pictured is the quote chosen for Michael’s poster.

ceiling display

top of poster

left and right lower side of poster

“Michael is the first rock/pop dancer to now be honored amongst the dance greats in ballet, modern, jazz and all of The National Museum of Dance.”

by Elizabeth Olney- cawobeth
LMJ reporter

all photos taken by Elizabeth eve of event 8-15-10

Source: Legendary Michael Jackson