Amanda's Analysis · Dance

Dance Spotlight: Michael Dameski

This week is rather exciting for Australian dancer Michael Dameski. On July 25, he’ll be on TVs across the U.S. during his second episode of NBC’s World of Dance. On July 26 and 28, he’ll be on the silver screen in theaters nationwide during the Newsies: The Broadway Musical summer encore, presented by Fathom Events. So it seemed very fitting to feature him this week for my first Dance Spotlight post.

Name: Michael Dameski
Main Style: Contemporary
Career Highlights:

  • 2008-2009: Billy Elliot: The Musical Australia – Billy
  • 2010: Billy Elliot: The Musical on Broadway – Billy
  • 2010-2011: Billy Elliot U.S. tour – Billly
  • 2014: So You Think You Can Dance Australia season 4 winner
  • 2016: Newsies U.S. tour – ensemble
  • 2017: Newsies: The Broadway Musical aka Newsies Live (film) – Tommy Boy/scab
  • 2018: World of Dance season 2

I discovered Dameski and his beautiful dancing a few weeks ago while watching his qualifiers routine on World of Dance, but the first time I actually watched Dameski dance was last fall when I watched Newsies for the first time ― or so I thought.

It turns out I’d watched him before that. As the Australian winner of the most recent season of SYTYCD Australia, he was invited to perform on the season 11 finale of the original SYTYCD. I definitely watched that season (it’s one of my very favorite seasons of SYTYCD), and I know I watched the finale. I don’t remember anything about his dance, so I went back and watched it and have no clue why I wasn’t instantly a fan like I was after initially watching him on WOD.

His power, control, extension, technique, and ability to interpret and connect with the music so well were evident in both his SYTYCD solo and his WOD solo. Many of the same moves were even choreographed into both.

So let’s begin to admire Dameski’s awesome dancing with a bunch of GIFs, starting with that SYTYCD solo.

This solo was a very fierce and powerful routine, which his costume totally conveys. I’m really curious as to what the whole story is here because I’m wondering why he wore those arm bands. Anyway, look at the extension! And the oversplit! And the height! He’s got some hops, if you ask me.

Earlier this month, he was on Ellen to promote WOD and showed off more of his superb turning leaping abilities. Actually, I’m not sure what this move would be. It starts like a leap but then transitions into a turning kick. It is impressive nonetheless.

How he manages to have such control when doing these moves is beyond me. Take note of how it’s his core and legs doing the work when turning in the air. His torso simply follows after he’s done spotting.

Perhaps this sideswipe aerial better demonstrates his control. This is no ordinary aerial as his torso remains parallel to the ground, yet he manages to complete the rotation with his legs while still keeping his torso in place. As a gymnastics fanatic and reporter, I’ve seen a lot of aerials, and this one is on a whole other level.

Speaking of acrobatics, we’ve got a roundoff layout stepout that’s honestly better than some gymnasts’. Look at the pointed feet. The straight legs. The height and floatiness. No wonder he made it on Newsies where tumbling is rather abundant.

Sometimes when dancers include tumbling in their dances to add difficulty, the form suffers. That’s definitely not the case here. And to be able to land the layout step out on one foot and one knee takes so much precision and control.

But wait. There’s more. This somersault dive is unreal. It looks so simple and effortless, but who actually wants to do a front somersault onto their hands on a stage and not a gymnastics mat or floor? He gets so much airtime, too! Who wasn’t in awe when watching this for the first time?

I honestly didn’t think Dameski’s acrobatics could be even more impressive unless he started busting out double pikes and tucks. But I was wrong.

The first time I watched this I honestly didn’t even know what I had just seen. It happened so quickly, I was like “Oh my gosh. What was that?!” My GIFs are slightly slower than real time, so this back handspring half to sit thing may not have as big of a wow factor as it does in reality.

But I have honestly never seen any gymnastics, tumbling, or acrobatic move like that before. I had to watch this a few times before I could figure out what he did because it’s such a unique move and happened so quickly. And it just looks hard! But Dameski makes it look pretty easy.

This is what the WOD judges looked like after his somersault dive, but I looked like that after this back handspring move. How did he even?! Dameski did that on a hard floor. No way that doesn’t strain or hurt his wrists when catching that half turn to sit. And he kept his feet pointed the whole time. That’s no easy feat.

Last, but most definitely not least, are his beautiful fouette turns! He’s done them in everything I’ve seen him do (which honestly is only three things, but whatever), and I could watch him turn forever. Fouette turns are without a doubt my favorite dance move to watch, and Dameski’s are no exception.

I mean, there’s a reason he was chosen to do the turn sequence at the end of “Seize the Day” in Newsies Live. Turns look difficult enough on a normal stage or dance floor, and Dameski’s over here turning on a fake newspaper. And then the illusion turn at the end is just the cherry on top.

What all these GIFs don’t show, though, is his ability to interpret and move with the music so well. His solos may not be super emotional storytelling routines, but it’s still easy to see a story in his movement, to feel something when combined with the music, lyrics, and his subtle facial expressions.

Let’s take his WOD qualifiers solo (embedded above) as an example. His huge leap at 0:42 is timed so well with the height of the music. It exudes peak emotion, a crescendo, a breakthrough. Plus, it’s just really impressive because of the height Dameski gets with his leaps. And then his choreo at 0:58 works so well with the lyrics. He’s not literally begging, down on his knees asking for something, but he still portrays that feeling of desire, really wanting or even needing something.

In his SYTYCD solo (embedded below), which is a darker, more serious contemporary routine, Dameski nails his movement with the music, which has no lyrics. His back handspring half sit thing at 0:09 is perfectly in sync with the big booming note that sets the tone for the entire performance. When he begins his turns at 0:57, Dameski turns flawlessly with the timing of the music, his leg finishing a rotation at the same time as a new note plays, speeding up as the tempo increases.

I could probably go on and on about Dameski and his dancing, but that’s the jist of it. I remember right after I watched his WOD qualifiers solo, I instantly thought he had everything it took to be in the Newsies ensemble, the control and precision, the talent, the tumbling. And then I looked him up and found out he was a Newsie! Funny how the world works, huh?

Catch Dameski on NBC’s World of Dance this Wednesday, July 25 at 8/7c as he competes head-to-head in the Duels, and watch his fascinating turns on the big screen on Thursday, July 26 and/or Thursday, July 28 in Newsies. For tickets, head to Fathom Events.

But don’t fret if you can’t watch Newsies in theaters! It’s also available on Netflix and for purchase on Amazon. It’s well worth the Amazon purchase because Ashley and I have watched it at least 10 times, and it comes with bonus content!


Header photo credit via Andrew Eccles/NBC
GIFs from videos via World of Dance and Ellen©NBC, Newsies©Disney, So You Think You Can Dance ©FOX

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