“The [Mouse King] choreography is based on my subtle movements, how I walk,” Buck told Dance Spirit. “The point was for the Mouse King to always look like he’s in motion, even if he’s standing still. I had to work on and visualize every part of my body being its own living thing, its own organism.”

It’s this mastery and ethos that catapulted Lil Buck to fame in 2011, when filmmaker Spike Jonze captured the dancer in action at an event on a cell phone. After Jonze uploaded the video to YouTube, Lil Buck’s interpretive performance of “The Dying Swan,” played by Yo-Yo Ma, went viral:

After that, Lil Buck continued to spread the gospel of jookin. Although the dance form had existed for 25 years previously, he’s often credited with bringing it to the world stage. The New Yorker speculated in a 2013 profile that his success was due “not just to his dancing, but also to his charisma… Lil Buck has it by the boatload.”

Lil Buck studied ballet at the New Ballet Ensemble in Memphis. He’s also performed with Madonna at the Super Bowl, spent a year with Cirque du Soleil, and taken the stage at the New York City Ballet for a series of performances in 2014.

While audiences and critics may be dissatisfied with the new film, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the captivating new Mouse King.

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