Sam immediately recognised his brother’s talent and urged him to practice. So began regular sessions as Sam played keyboards and Dantanio sang, developing his talent to include pop, R’n’B, swing, jazz and reggae. But after hearing Michael Jackson’s Bad album, it was the music of the man dubbed the King of Pop that truly moved him. He obsessively researched Jackson and taught himself to emulate the fine details of the pop star’s eye popping dance style.
By his mid teens Dantanio was so good that he got booted out of an amateur dance competition because the judges thought he had reached a professional standard.
“There’s so many things — his uniqueness, humility and dedication to his craft,” Dantanio said when asked what captured him about Jackson.
“I love the music, his performance and energy … (and) learning how much he has given of himself to the world.”
Dantanio has done tributes to the pop legend for two decades and is now starring in the Michael Jackson HIStory Show, which is coming to Frankston.
“When I am on stage I really become Michael Jackson. I let myself go,” he told the Leader.
“The fans don’t want to see Dantanio. They want to see Michael Jackson. They want the ultimate Michael Jackson experience.”
Dantanio said he had difficulty naming a favourite Jackson track.
“There are so many songs. I love all of the songs. They are like my babies. I don’t want to push anyone to the back.”
But ultimately it’s Billie Jean that stands out for Dantanio.
On stage, he aims to give an honest performance and connect emotionally with his audience — just like Jackson did.
“You have to be honest with your emotions and the audience will be moved,” he said.
“If the audience don’t stand up and laugh, clap and have a good time and shed their tears I have not put in a good performance.
“It’s what it is about because Michael Jackson was about that.”
Dantanio’s show features a live international band, fully choreographed dancers, authentic costumes and brilliant effects.
He can never envisage that his love of Jackson would flag.
“I would never get tired of performing as Michael Jackson. I am naturally a singer and performer,” he said.
“It’s part of my DNA. Every night (performing as Jackson) is new.”
See Dantanio perform in the Michael Jackson HIStory Show at Frankston Arts Centre on July 7
at 8pm. Tickets $69/$79.
Bookings: artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au or 9784 1060.