»Moonwalk« is a dance technique which fakes a forward motion by moving legs and feet, while in reality you are moving backwards. This is how the illusion is created that the floor is pulling away in a gliding motion, underneath the feet of the dancer. No other name can be more closely connected to this move than the name of Michael Jackson (who was born on 29th August 1958 on a full moon). Even though he is not the founder, in this case, one can refer to him as the figurehead. The key moment was Jackson’s performance of »Billie Jean« at the anniversary celebration »Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever« in 1983. From this moment on, the moonwalk’s triumph was not to be stopped and Michael Jackson had shaped his signature move.
[the »moonwalk« starts at 4:13 min]
The »moonwalk« has many roots. For one thing, the sliding movement of the feet was and still is an important means of expression in pantomime and theatre. The performer would remain in one spot and drag the feet across the floor in a walking motion (this would be a »moonwalk« as well but without the backward movement – also known as »running man«). Other forerunners of the »moonwalk« is the mambo and of course break-dance, which was also an inspiration to Michael Jackson.
Who would like to learn how to do the »moonwalk«, can take a look at this tutorial:
But why is there a ›moon‹ in the »moonwalk«? This could probably be the purported weightlessness that is conveyed by this step, which reminds of the reduced gravity on the Moon. If one wouldn’t have to wear those cumbersome space suits, one could actually hover beautifully along the Moon …