Fifty gruesome zombies took to the street in Gibsons last Saturday, Oct. 26, faces gaunt, clothes tattered.
Ranging in age from five to 65-plus, the living dead assembled at the rain swept parking lot of Dominique’s School of Dance, with at least 50 spectators standing by. At noon sharp, Michael Jackson’s song ‘Thriller’ was piped over the lot, and the zombies began to dance the original steps to the video at the exact same time as other zombies in 160 communities and 22 countries around the world. ‘Thrill the World 2012,’ the world’s largest simultaneous dance, had begun.
“The whole world gathered at one time to do one thing, not political, not to make a statement, just for the sheer enjoyment of the dance,” said participant Maneesha Trippell of Gibsons. “As soon as I heard about it, it was such an easy decision to join.” Hutchinson said the event was fantastic.
“The spirit was contagious, uniting everyone. We had so much fun,” she said. “There were as many spectators as dancers, and everyone was so excited, they pledged to involve their whole families next year.”
Hutchinson first became involved with the ‘Thrill’ project in 2011, when she was asked to teach the steps to a class in Gibsons, who then danced in the Vancouver event. She agreed, but was initially unenthused about the project. However, the energy and diverse backgrounds of the students who showed up for the class was striking, and after teaching the first few sessions she fell head over heels in love with the dance.
“I am not that big a fan of Halloween. I am a mom, and it’s all about candy, but when I looked at Jackson’s dancing over the years, and his charitable work, I became awed by the person he was inside,” she said. “You cannot deny his talent, how he transported dance, or the huge amount of charitable work he did.”
Just 19 days before the 2012 event, Hutchinson and fellow dancer Zeta Gaudet, who became administrator for the Gibsons event, made the last-minute decision to register Gibsons as a participant. Three hasty practice sessions were scheduled, and dancers were encouraged to go to the Thrill the World website for further study of the steps, and detailed instructions on how to transform into a zombie.
Thrill the World was started by Ines Markeljevic of Ontario, in 2006.
Markeljevic danced to Thriller in front of his television at age three, and fell in love with dance. She went on to graduate from of York University’s dance program, become a dance instructor and choreographer, and, in 2006, created Thrill the World. Her goals were to break the Guinness record for the world’s largest simultaneous dance, pay homage to the dancing genius and charitable work of Jackson, bring dance to people all over the world, and to remind everyone that before you believed you couldn’t dance, you did.
The phenomenon was also created to support local charities. All registration fees and audience donations go to a local charity selected by each group.
“Between fees and donations, we raised $749.04 for The Heritage Playhouse,” Hutchinson said. “It was great.”
You can check out the Gibsons (and other community) videos on YouTube at “Thrill the World Gibsons 2012.” Fun, spooky and for a great cause.