Michael Jackson Choreographer Teaches NOCCA Students

Feb 15, 2012

Students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts had lots of questions for a visitor this week.  Choreographer Travis Payne explained how a teenager from Atlanta, Georgia, ended up dancing with Michael Jackson.

First, the 50 students gathered in one of the dance studios to listen as Payne explained his journey to Los Angeles, multiple auditions and then ones that landed him on two tours with Michael Jackson. Payne is in New Orleans this week as Cirque du Soleil’s  “Michael Jackson: The Immortal” touring show opens at the New Orleans Arena. Payne is the choreographer.

Soon, it was time for them to learn a few steps.

Then Payne cued the music.

After class, Payne said it’s important for children of all ages to explore their creative side.

“I would like for them to take away that anything is possible, certainly if you work hard enough. I’m an example of that. It did not come easy. There were times where I was broke. There were times where I was injured. There were times where you kind of second-guess yourself. Just trying to be as consistent as possible certainly paid off. So I think that for any young person it would be necessary to just remember that.”  

Payne also advised performing arts students to pay attention to what others in a production are doing. He says it helped him develop from a dancer to choreographer to director.