Jackson 'Smooth Criminal' (Official Video). Credit: MichaelJacksonVevo, YouTube
In the video for the 80’s hit ‘Smooth Criminal’, Michael Jackson and co-dancers perform a gravity-defying move where they lean forward at a 45-degree angle.
This led sceptics to believe some sort of special effect was used in the video, only for their assertions to be dashed when he repeated the feat live on stage at concerts.
Writing in the Journal of Neurosurgery, Yagnick et al. report how Jackson was assisted in this move by a patented shoe and metal peg anchored in the stage. However, the dance move would still have required athletically strong core strength.
Since Michael Jackson revolutionised the music video medium, dancers have pushed the boundaries of body biomechanics and as the authors suggest, sustained injuries in the process. These moves and their injuries have begun to challenge the modes and mechanisms of spinal injury, prompting the neurosurgeon authors to ask the question, ‘How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics?’
With ever increasing complexity in dance moves, dancers are stressing their spine in ways unlike those commonly experienced by surgeons. The increased rate of dancers suffering complex spinal injuries is requiring a fresh approach and need for understanding from surgeons.
They also note that injured dancers generally want to return to dancing, and it remains to be seen how surgical implants will hold up to the stresses of dance, as the art pushes the physical limitations of the human body.