Dancers in Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal" walk the Moonwalk, lean the Lean and replicate other Jackson dance moves, often in groups.
Mastering Jackson's signature steps took months and guidance from choreographers who worked with the late pop star.
"It was a whole style by itself," featured dancer Leeco Kosmidis said by phone last week before an "Immortal" performance in Phoenix.
Kosmidis, 25, first heard Jackson's music as a child in then-Soviet Georgia, where only the biggest acts from the West, like Jackson and the Beatles, broke through. After Kosmidis' family moved to Cyprus, the fledgling dancer admired Jackson's style via video.
"Michael was creating his own moves and even the walk he was doing," Kosmidis said. "He just created his own vocabulary."
"The Immortal," coming to Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday and Wednesday, combines Jackson-esque dancing with recorded vocals from Jackson and the Jackson 5, set to live music.
The $60 million production also comes with pyrotechnics, Cirque's aerial artists and acrobats, and imagery drawn from Jackson's life and famous music videos.
"We do have the gates to the Neverland Ranch, and that is quite poignant in terms of what he is about," said "Immortal" artistic director Tara Young, a Broadway veteran.
The show is not a through-line biography but an abstract tribute to Jackson's life, art and work ethic.
"You hear Michael's voice throughout," Young said.
Literally and figuratively.
Before his death, Jackson expressed interest in collaborating with Cirque du Soleil, Young said. Cirque partnered with Jackson's estate to produce "The Immortal," directed by Jamie King, the choreographer and pop-tour mastermind behind shows by Britney Spears, Madonna and Celine Dion.
King danced on Jackson's 1992 "Dangerous" tour and imparted to the Cirque team his firsthand impressions of Jackson, a noted perfectionist. Jackson choreographer Travis Payne helped mold the show as well, and "Immortal" features musicians who played with Jackson.
"I did not know him, but we have worked with so many people who knew him, and he raised the bar higher than any performer I have ever met, even in my Broadway career," Young said. "You feel a responsibility to work at that level, and you feel honored you are even asked to."
Cirque has gone rock 'n' roll before, with tributes to the Beatles ("LOVE") and Elvis Presley ("Viva Elvis").
But those are Las Vegas-only shows. "The Immortal" will tour the world, taking 35 truckloads of equipment with it.
"For an arena concert, 35 trucks is a lot," Cirque spokesman Maxime Charbonneau said. "You have stadium tours that have 40 trucks."
"The Immortal" also offers something stadium shows do not: Bubbles. Or at least a guy dressed as Jackson's chimp.
The show's large scale seems appropriate, given demand for Jackson's work since his death in June 2009. Between then and June 2011, Jackson digital singles racked up 16.3 million in sales in the United States, according to Billboard.biz and Nielsen SoundScan.
Cirque sold more than 150,000 tickets to its three-week run of "Immortal" in December in Las Vegas, Charbonneau said, and sold out the show's October world premiere in Cirque's hometown of Montreal.
"Jackson fits Cirque like a hand in a sequined glove," Brian McCollum wrote in a USA Today review of the show. "With its whimsical spirit and high- flying elegance, 'Immortal' celebrates an artist known for his own endless childhood and dreamy idealism."
The "Immortal" premiere coincided with the Los Angeles trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted in November of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death. The court case illuminated Jackson's drug dependency.
The more difficult aspects of Jackson's life are not touched upon in "The Immortal," Young said. Just like millions of fans who have downloaded Jackson's music since his death, the show's creators have focused instead on Jackson's extraordinary artistry.
"We separate that, and we honor his life and the excellence Michael brought to the world," Young said. "Michael was the King of Pop, he still is the King of Pop. We celebrate his life."
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S "MICHAEL JACKSON: THE IMMORTAL"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
WHERE: Power Balance Pavilion, One Sports Parkway, Sacramento
INFORMATION: (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com