The late King of Pop pioneered dance moves that looked mechanical and weren’t, like the moonwalk, and at least one that looked mechanical and was: The forward-leaning maneuver from his “Smooth Criminal” video. The secret is all in the shoes.
Trying to lean beyond one’s center of gravity normally leads to a giant, awkward step forward to retain balance, so to achieve the 45-degree angle he wanted, Michael and his dancers used special shoes as well as a trick in the stage floor. When the time came for the move, a peg-like aperture would protrude from the dance floor. The heel of the dancers’ shoes featured a triangular cut out that could be hitched onto the peg, anchoring the dancers to lean much farther forward, and thus blowing the world’s collective mind.