Athletes are in 'Michael Jackson: Immortal'

If you head to Worcester, Mass., tonight to watch the "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour," expect to see athletes perform.


They are everywhere. Athletes show some acrobatics through "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and then others do free-running parkour to "Thriller" and hip-hop dancers deftly dribble basketballs to the choreography of "Jam."

The theatrics of the two-hour show are produced by Cirque du Soleil, which uses Jackson's music along with Cirque du Soleil's signature acrobatic performance style to create a realistic concert experience.

The show, which started touring last fall, was produced in partnership with Jackson's estate. It's on the East Coast now and shortly will head to Europe. It's made more than $50 million already and has played in front of more than 500,000 fans.

"This show is really special and we love bringing it to the mainstream audience," said dancer Felix Cane, who performs the show-stopping pole-dancing act to "Dangerous." "I've always loved Michael Jackson and this is a great opportunity to show my sport to the world."

Cane was performing in Cirque's "Zumanity" show in Las Vegas the past two years and wanted a change. So she signed up for the "Immortal" tour and left her husband back home.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I had to take it," Cane said. "I get to travel the world and show that my act is more about being sensual and not sexual."

Harvey Donnelly had been performing as a trampoline artist for 10 years growing up in England. He applied to join the Cirque troop and was hired one month later. He had to learn parkour and other acrobatics and feels blessed to be part of this show.

"I knew this was going to be biggest show in the world," Donnelly said. "I'm just so lucky. I want to do this for the next 10 years. Even when I'm on vacation, I listen to the Michael Jackson CD."

Donnelly had won trampoline's South West Championships in the United Kingdom from ages 11 to 15. When he was 13, he qualified for nationals. And now at 21, he's traveling the world and can't wait to return to Europe this fall.

"I knew everything was going to change in my life the day I got the news I was joining Cirque," Donnelly said. "Life is making the most of your opportunities. This is my college."