Tu Michael was a quiet, shy kid who kept to himself. Then, upon discovering the music and dancing of Michael Jackson, he broke free of his inhibitions and is now busting moves as an internet sensation.
Why do we exist? What is the meaning of life? Where can we find the inspiration and passion we need to live fulfilled lives?
For one young Vietnamese boy, the answers to these and many of life's other big questions were found at the most unique source: the unmistakeable dance moves of none other than The King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
Tu Michael began to emulate Michael Jackson's dancing at age 11, while in the 6th grade. Three years later, he performed for the first time at his school's English Festival. Then, while attending the Institute of International Relations, he formed a group called Moondancers, who began performing frequently at clubs, parties, and corporate promotional events.
Tu Michael's story, however, is not one merely of a child who begins to dance and perform publicly. His childhood was quite different from his current stage persona. Tu grew up as "the quiet kid," a shy young boy who lacked the confidence and motivation to do anything beyond merely attending school.
Then came the music and dancing of Michael Jackson.
The rhythm. The moves. The passion. As young Tu heard MJ sing and watched him dance, he felt a new energy course through his being. He had found inspiration, motivation, and purpose, and began to channel those feelings into his own dance moves. He has even developed his own mottos, mantras he lives by:
"I am not Number One, but I will be the Only One"
"Dance by the feet, feel by the heart"
When asked about his goals, Tu Michael is quick to point out that he does not seek fame or fortune, nor does he obsess over becoming a Michael Jackson imitator. "I do not want to live my life in showbiz...I would like my story to inspire others. There are hidden talents in everyone, but you may not dare to recognize it."
Beyond dancing, himself, Tu Michael has begun to teach others. His aim is to show students the true meaning of dancing. "It's not about skills or technique," he says. "It's about the passion in dancing...it's the spirit."
Apparently, his students are learning very well. In 2011, a 12-year-old pupil of his named Dang Quan won the television show/competition Vietnam's Got Talent. Actor and show judge Thanh Loc shared his thoughts about Dang's dancing, “You successfully give us a message about war and peace in your performance." The hard-to-please judge akin to American Idol's Simon Cowell, musician Huy Tuan, praised, "You convince us with your every single dance move." Having a young student receive such a mature evaluation is a testament to Tu Michael's "beyond technique" philosophy.
Inspired by the energy and positivity he feels when dancing, Tu Michael has taken his Moondancing to global levels via the web. After reading about making money online he stumbled upon a website that allows Sellers to do most anything for a standard fee of five dollars. Tu thought of his passion for dancing and posted a Gig stating that he would "dance like Michael Jackson for $5." He forgot about it until, two weeks later, he received a request for his dancing Gig.
After a some revisions and a more direct sell toward commercial promotions, Tu now offers to dance to the song of your choice (MJ or otherwise), in various costumes, in multiple settings, or even against a green screen backdrop, and offers a variety of upgrades.
And the overall response to Tu Michael on the $5 website?
Tu has become somewhat of an internet sensation! As of this writing, he has received hundreds of positive reviews of his completed Gigs, and even received one marriage proposal.
He does not perform for the money, however, whether it be a large corporate paycheck or an internet customer's five American dollars. By day, Tu Michael works at Vietcombank. He earns a comfortable living and has no intention of setting aside his professional career to pursue his Moondancing full time. But when the workday is over, you are likely to find Tu dancing to the music that has inspired him since childhood.
Only time will tell what Tu Michael's next steps will be. For the time being, we know he will dance, teach, and spread his story however he can, hoping that his experiences will inspire others. He is hopeful other "quiet kids" similar to himself will find their own passion, be it dancing, singing, or something altogether different. It is the potential to share inspiration that fuels Tu Michael each day. And for $5, you can have Tu capture his inspiration on video so that you, too, can share his passion with others.