Wearing sequined white gloves, a plastic neon party hat, and a black t-shirt depicting the King of Pop, Darius Strange tilted his head downward and slid backwards across the dance floor to famous hits like “Beat It,” “Bad,” and “Billie Jean.”
Darius, 10, was celebrating his birthday at Shana Hansen's New Creations Dance Studio in Palestine's Main Street District. Darius was living his dream for a day by dancing like Michael Jackson with a dozen or so friends, ages 4-10. The kids played with neon balloons, hats, and light sticks while learning how to perform Jackson's dance moves.
Darius was only a few months old when the world lost Jackson, but his fascination with Jackson proves the King will continue to affect future generations.
“He’s clean,” said Darius of the late Michael Jackson. “He has cool moves.”
Darius has enjoyed dancing since the age of four, but recently “caught the Michael Jackson bug” after watching a dance video, said his dad, Jonathan Strange.
“My son definitely thinks he’s Michael,” said Strange, pastor of New Fellowship Christian Church. Jonathan wants his son to enjoy his “Michael Jackson phase” while it lasts.
Darius, whose bright, amber-colored eyes were lit with excitement, said he was surprised by how much fun he had at the studio, where Hansen led the kids in a line dance with Darius at the center. Strange said Darius will begin taking hip-hop dance lessons at the studio – an uncommon move for boys in East Texas, but Darius will join two other boys in the class.
“I wish [Michael Jackson] was alive so he could teach me,” Darius said.
Hansen teaches many forms of dance during the week to boys and girls; she also offers ballerina, princess, or glow-in-the-dark theme parties with custom lighting effects on weekends.
“I thought it was going to be boring,” Darius said, surprised that his parents and the studio brought his dream to life.