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August 11, 2011

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Stayin' alive

Two years after Michael Jackson's death, his Chinese fans are holding their second song and dance remembrance concert on August 21 at Mao Livehouse.

Zhao Junlong is a quiet PhD student in botanic science by day, but he has a whole other life as a Michael Jackson impersonator and he and other Jackson fans are getting ready for a show that will bring down the house in remembrance of MJ.

Zhao, who is 28, and six other performers will take center stage on August 21 for "Revival 2011" at Shanghai's Mao Livehouse, marking the anniversary of Jackson's birth on August 29. The American mega star, who would have turned 53, died of an overdose on June 25, 2009, and fans are keeping his music alive.

The three-hour show of classic song and dance routines is organized by the Michael Jackson Shanghai fan club (MJJSH), one of the largest in China. It is expected to draw fans from around the country to one of the country's biggest MJ shows.

"This will be a day to celebrate God's grace in sending an angel to earth 53 years ago," says Zhao.

It's the second year for the MJJSH "Revival" show and memories of "Revival 2010" are still vivid. Zhao starred in that show as well.

Zhao became a big fan of Jackson when he was only 11 years old, and started to teach himself Jackson's dance moves.

"There were no computers then," Zhao recalls. "I played Jackson's music videos again and again on TV and actually drew the dance steps on paper, one by one." He has made all his costumes by hand, imitating Jackson's wardrobe.

"They are unique in the world," he says.

Tickets are on sale.

Fans from around China as well as foreigners are coming together in Shanghai for the show.

The Michael Jackson Shanghai fan club was founded in November 2008 and has more than 4,000 members, mostly Shanghai residents.

"Michael Jackson's spirit crosses the boundaries of nations and races, genders and religions, with billions of people drawn to his music and dance," says Zhao Yongbin, the concert's program director and one of the seven main performers.

Zhao Yongbin, 27, works in an advertising company and joined the old MJ fan club in 2005.

The official Chinese fan club was disbanded after Jackson's death, but fans wanted a group to remain and founded the Shanghai group.

Last year when Taiwanese pop singer Tiger Huang and band Sodagreen performed in concert in Shanghai, Zhao was a warm-up guest who showed off Jackson's moves.

"I started to listen to Jackson's music when I was four and imitated him in college. It's been one of the most important parts of my life," Zhao Yongbin says.

MJJSH holds regular meeting and parties.

"I love getting together. We share the love of our idol, so we sing and dance and share our memories," says performer Jiang Jingjing, 30, who works in the IT industry. He got hooked on Jackson when he was 15 and has studied everything about the King of Pop.

The first "Revival" show last August was a big success and attracted 400 fans; more are expected this year in the new and bigger Mao Livehouse venue.

"As time goes by and history becomes obscured, we will always believe in our king's immortality," says college senior Sherry Wang Shenghua.

She says the new Mao Livehouse will be a perfect setting with a great stage, sound equipment and LED lights.

Classic programs such as "Billie Jean" will be staged.

"I watched my first Jackson video in 1998, it was 'Billie Jean'," says 30-year-old Jin Hailiang, another performer and fan who has been doing Jackson moves for nine years. "My passion has never cooled.

"Because of Jackson's music, I wanted to find my feelings on the stage," says Jin who performed "Billie Jean" in 1998 at his school's art festival, and won second prize.

Date: August 21, 5pm

Venue: Mao Livehouse, 3F, 308 Chongqing Rd S.

Tickets: 100 yuan

Tel: 1391-8163-001, 1363-6492-924

Check for more information.


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