Dance to the top like a Jackson


Natascha Mercadante, Pitchfork

Jayden Cooper, 18, gives an entertaining performance in the 2014- 2015 talent show. He performed a dance tribute to Michael Jackson with the song “Smooth Criminal.”

Michael Jackson, a pop culture icon of the late 1900s and early 2000s, in the earlier time of his career. All the while bringing upbeat dance and music to the entertainment industry. His dance styles were especially influential for senior Jayden Cooper. When Jackson died, he was there to continue the Jackson dream.
“I used to watch his music videos, and when he died, I really wanted to pay tribute to him,” Cooper said. “I took it seriously and worked on it a lot.”
He taught himself how to perform Jackson’s dance moves from a wide selection of his songs.
The long practices at home helped him win several events. In his first competition, which was in 2011 for Duncan Little Theatre’s Got Talent, he received the People’s Choice award. Cooper was very nervous and he thought he wasn’t going to win. He won a grand prize of $3,000 at a competition in Fletcher in 2012. Cooper spent the earnings over a course of two years. A small portion went to his costumes; he currently has 30 jackets and five pairs of dancing loafers he found online.
Cooper also traveled to Plano, Texas, in 2012 to perform a mashup of Michael Jackson’s “Is It Scary,” “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It” and “Thriller” at the haunted house, Dark Hour. His routine was booked by some of his family members. While there, Cooper performed the extravagant routines.
The Discovery Channel was also there to do a report on the haunted house and they brought a professional to cover it. They also showed a brief shot of Cooper on stage in his Michael Jackson costume.
The crowd was energetic and didn’t know he was going to be performing such a vast selection of songs.
When the audiences are energetic, it gives Cooper the motivation to do more with his performances.
“Whenever I get up there and start performing, I just try to give the people what Michael Jackson would have brought if he was here,” Cooper said. “It’s kind of hard to do because he’s not here, and I’m not Michael.”
His mom, Carrie Cooper, loves her son’s passion as well.
“She claims to be my biggest fan,” Jayden said.
Carrie Cooper plays a strong role in Jayden’s career. She calls herself his mom-ager because she used to help him book appearances. In earlier times, she was simply trying to get his name out there.
“It’s amazing. He’s very talented,” she said. “I still cry when I see him on stage.”
Jayden has gotten to perform for birthdays, family reunions and weddings.
“Three of my friends have asked him to perform at their weddings,” Carrie said. “He’s also performed at a home for the disabled in Lawton.”
Jayden is currently unsure about where he wants to go to college, but he would like to become a veterinarian or zoologist. He is also interested in culinary school.
“I’d like to go to Texas and study desserts because I like to bake desserts and things,” he said. “I’d find a way to fit MJ in there somewhere.”
Jayden has plans to branch out to Las Vegas after college.
“I plan to finish college and go be Michael somewhere professionally as long as I can and then fall back on the stuff I went to college for,” he said. “I’m willing to take it all on.”
A lifelong friend of Cooper’s and talent show competitor, senior Jennifer Lopez, says that she and Jayden build each other up.
“We like to hang out and we don’t have time to stress each other with what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re so busy with our own stuff.”
If Jayden goes on to professionally performing after high school, Lopez said she and he will still be in communication.
“We don’t have to talk every single day,” she said. “He’s just that kind of friend.”
Jayden is a very determined person, according to Lopez.
“He doesn’t let anyone get in the way of his passion,” she said.
Glimmering lights and fashionable outfits all make up some sort of future for Jayden. His career depends on if he’s going to be after college.