The Pitman High School junior, 17 years old at the time, had been dancing for nine years and wanted to put on a special show for his friends. His dancing was something so many other kids at his school knew nothing about.
When Brett Nichols, a teen with no formal dance training, performed at his school’s talent show, he had no idea the footage would ultimately go viral.
“I just figured my friends, they work really hard and encourage me, and I figured this is more for them than it is for me,” he told TurlockCityNews.com.
Clad in a simple black suit, black hat and white gloves, Nichols summoned his inner Michael Jackson as he prepared to dance and moonwalk to Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.
The moonwalk was Michael Jackson’s signature dance move. However, performer Toni Basil told Biography: “In the street, it was old news. The Electric Boogaloos were doing it on Soul Train in the 1970s.” In fact, Jackson was taught the moonwalk by choreographer Jeffrey Daniel— however, the superstar’s natural dancing skills gave the movement a refined sleekness and perfection.
Again, while Jackson did not invent the moonwalk, he did help popularize it during a live performance of Billie Jean. The moment is credited with bridging the gap between West Coast street dance and East Coast break dancers— an event notable in dance history.
Not only was Michael extremely famous for this iconic dance move, but it also brought the movement to the mainstream where it’s remained, being honored and relived through performances like this. It’s clear that Nichols drew inspiration from the pop star as well.
From the moment the music starts playing, Nichols already has the crowd cheering.
He truly seems to embody Jackson as he pulls off the choreography with ease and fluid motion. Thrusting his hips in Jackson’s suggestive manner before doing a high-kick, Nichols pulls out every stop.
When Jackson starts singing on the track, the teen grabs a mic from the microphone stand in front of him and lip-syncs to the lyrics. All the other students watch on from the bleachers wondering if it’s the same Nichols they knew yesterday walking down the halls.
His movements are exact and on-point. Quite frankly, he’s mesmerizing to watch.
But when he ends with a perfect moonwalk, the crowd goes absolutely wild. Can you blame them?!
Footage of Nichol’s performance was shared to the school’s Facebook page, where it was seen by alumnus Jaydeep Bhatia who also shared it to Reddit. In an interview with TurlockCityNews.com (cited by Huffington Post), Bhatia said: “I just knew it belonged on Reddit and the rest is history.”
MTV later picked up the footage, featuring it on MTV News and offering Nichols greats praise, reporting he “does Michael Jackson better than Michael Jackson’s [Billboard Music Awards] hologram.” What an incredible honor to have been told that!
From there, Jackson’s estate caught wind of the performance, sending Nichols two copies of Jackson’s posthumous album and an invitation to attend the Michael Jackson Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas. Of the gift, Nichols said:
“It’s really exciting that I’m being recognized by such an iconic family in American history.”
Although Nichols’ performance is a few years old, it’s recently been making the rounds online once more. Comments on the video read:
“Got chills down my entire body when he did that moonwalk! Flawless!”
“Michael Jackson would have been proud.”
Who knew that a school’s talent show could end up being the catalyst for so much more? It’s incredible what humans can do when they break out of their shell and do something even when it makes them feel scared and uncomfortable. Way to go, Brett! We admire you!
Watch the incredible routine below for yourself!
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