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Sri Lankan Native Shares How She Danced a Duet With Michael Jackson in Iconic Black Or White Music Video


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Source: YouTube & The New School

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Many of us dream of seeing our favourite artists perform in concert, but how many of us can actually say that we’ve not only seen them perform, but performed ALONGSIDE them?!

It was the year 1991 when Yamuna Sangarasivam auditioned for and landed her dancing role in Michael Jackson’s iconic “Black or White” music video. 

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“Although she was a huge fan of the King of Pop, she never imagined that she would meet him, let alone dance a duet with him in one of his music videos!”

In fact, the Sri Lankan native almost didn’t audition, until her mother suggested that the project would be a perfect opportunity for her to practice ethnography.

The perfect opportunity

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When Yamuna first heard of Michael Jackson’s call for ethnic and modern dances, she was pursuing her master’s degree in the anthropology of dance at University of California at Los Angeles.

It was the perfect opportunity as it blended her passions for the anthropology of music and the anthropology of dance with her expertise in Odissi dance, a classical dance tradition of Orissa, India.



When she got the call that she’d been chosen out of more than 3,000 others who auditioned, she was over the moon! She promised to immediately get an agent, calmly hung up, and “then (she) just screamed!”

Watch Yamuna and Michael practise their duet below:

When Odissi Dancer Yamuna Sangarasivam Matched Steps With Michael Jackson

Watch Yamuna Sangarasivam match steps with Michael Jackson as they rehearse for his hit 1991 single 'Black or White' — which premiered in 27 countries to an audience of 500 million!VC: Brown History brownhistorypodcast

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Meeting the legend in person

While Yamuna never could’ve imagined the fame that followed her after her 20-second appearance in the music video, she said that working with Michael Jackson was extraordinary.

“He was so gracious, so humble and so kind,” she recalled.

“Michael even sent a Mercedes to pick up Yamuna and her mother, and he went out of his way to bring a warm blanket to her mother while they were working on the outdoor scene.”

Personal life

Today, Yamuna is a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Women and Gender Studies Undergraduate Program in Sociology & Anthropology in Nazareth College, New York.

With her father hailing from Singapore and her mother from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Yamuna learned three languages and lived in Sri Lanka and North Borneo before emigrating with her family to the United States when she was 9.

Watch Yamuna dance with Michael on the LA Expressway here (3:27-3:47):


So, if you’re a fan of an artist and can dance or have any other talent, try auditioning for a role too! Who knows, you just might end up landing the role like Yamuna!


Also read: Michelle Yeoh: Jackie Chan Was Initially Offered the Lead Role in Everything Everywhere All at Once

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Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

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