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Emotional show for choreographer brothers

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-28 03:18

Choreographer brothers Rich and Tone Talauega, who worked with Michael Jackson, are joining hands with Cirque du Soleil to present The Immortal World Tour.

"He (Jackson) was like a mentor and teacher to me," Rich Talauega says. "I'm here to protect his spirit and his energy."

Rich Talauega, who was in Beijing in June for the show's China launch, was quick to learn enough Mandarin for everyday life.

He says he remembers the first time he and his brother joined Jackson in a show for the 1995 MTV Awards.

Then only 18, Rich Talauega was a freestyle dancer.

"I met him when me and my brother were very young. When he came to the rehearsal, we were frozen," he says. That's unusual for Rich Talauega, who seems incapable of hearing music without moving to it.

Rich Talauega shares an anecdote of Jackson, who always worked to perfect his performance.

"Jackson came in and called off the rehearsal where we first met because he thought the sound system was too low," he says.

"The next day, he came and brought along a truck of big loud speakers."

The Talauega brothers were named assistant choreographers to Jackson, and later joined him in shows and music videos. To Rich Talauega, Jackson is the biggest artist in the world.

"He taught me mostly by his presence," he says.

"I would not be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for Michael Jackson. I owe everything to him."

He says Jackson's death broke his and his brother's hearts.

"The show with Cirque du Soleil is an emotional experience for me," he says.

Rich Talauega knows that a lot of great Chinese acrobats work with the troupe, and China has great history and cultural heritage.

He believes art transcends everything, including language barriers.

"The show is to present magic and fantasy into reality, which brings in experience that is beyond words," he says.

A fan of Chinese movies and music, Rich Talauega says he dances to Chinese songs, especially from movies, such as by Tony Leung Chiu-wai.

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