The Science Behind Michael Jackson’s “Anti Gravity” Tilt
Michael Jackson sold millions upon millions of records, with a perfectly produced pop sound. His ground breaking videos took music and film to a new level, while his exhilarating live performances made people of all ages and ethnicities black out and faint. Perhaps the one moment that brought all of his creativity to a head was his classic “Anti Gravity” Tilt from the 1987 “Smooth Criminal” music video from his classic Bad album. Jackson appears to lean forward effortlessly in a way that doesn’t seem humanly possible.
During an era where big budget videos meant cutting edge special effects, live audiences were mesmerized when Michael Jackson performed the anti gravity tilt live. Recently The Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, set out reveal the magic behind Jackson’s often imitated but never duplicated dance move.
According to The Journal of Neurosurgery
When the human body stands erect, its center of gravity (COG) lies in front of the second sacral vertebra. Studies of biomechanics and kinesiology suggest that, as we bend forward with a straight torso, keeping our hip joints as the fulcrum, the erector spinae muscles act like cables to support the suspended spinal column during the forward shift of the COG, preventing the body from falling forward. However, when the fulcrum for forward bending is shifted to the ankle joints, the erector spinae lose their ability to maintain the COG, and strain is shifted to the Achilles tendon (Fig. 1B).1 This allows for a very limited degree of forward bending from the ankle joints, while keeping a stiff straight posture—unless you are Michael Jackson.
It turns out that a dancer with extreme core strength will reach a maximum of 25° to 30° of forward bending. Jackson manages to execute 45°. So how did MJ accomplish this?
Michael Jackson, never to be denied, invented and developed a special shoe with a slot in the heel. The slot would connect with a peg that emerged from the floor providing just the amount of extra support to be able to test the limits of nature.
Even though Michael Jackson would go as far as to obtain a patent to pull of this stunning trick, it takes abnormally strong core and back muscles to pull this one off. Michael Jackson was able to push the physical limits of his body to provide some of the greatest performances ever known to man.