‘Fantasy’ producer grooves with Miley Cyrus on MTV Awards

Anita Mann turned in a solid-gold performance with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards over the weekend, appropriately enough.

Before Sunday’s show, the last time Mann danced on TV was on “Solid Gold,” the mid-1980s syndicated music series.

“It was years and years and years ago,” said Mann, choreographer of the original Solid Gold Dancers. Today she is the producer and director of “Fantasy” at Luxor. “It was such a thrill to do it again.”

Mann was among the backing dancers in the live performance of Cyrus’s new single, “Younger Now,” at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The number mirrored the video for the song, which is laden with 1950s imagery, including a montage of Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner and Elvis Presley. The album of the same title is due Sept. 29.

Mann was enlisted through her long friendship with Cyrus choreographer Michael Rooney (the son of film legend Mickey Rooney), who has won MTV Video Music Awards for best choreography five times.

Most notably, Rooney directed Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” and Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You.” Both won MTV awards.

Mann has built an awe-inspiring career as a dancer, director and producer, highlighted by the days she danced in Elvis Presley films “Spinout,” “Clambake” and “Speedway.” In a moment crucial to her success onstage, Mann was pulled to the front of the ensemble in “Spinout” by Presley and his choreographer, Jack Baker. She also performed on Elvis’s legendary 1968 comeback special.

As a choreographer, Mann later worked for five years on “Solid Gold,” earning two Emmy nominations, and on such TV shows as “The Muppets Go Hollywood,” “The Cher Show,” “The Jacksons,” the Miss America Pageant, the Oscars telecast, the Emmy Awards show and the Golden Globes. Mann was also a regular choreographer on “The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.”

In Las Vegas, Mann opened “Fantasy,” then known as “Midnight Fantasy,” at Luxor in 1999.

She remains an adept groover, routinely working out steps with her dancers as she updates numbers in “Fantasy.” She said working with Cyrus on “Younger Now” was a great experience.

“She is so talented,” Mann said. “There were no backing tracks. There were live vocals, live orchestra. She was so kind and worked so hard. I’m blown away.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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