Local Zombies Shuffle Toward World Record "Thriller" Dance

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You know, sometimes even zombies crave a little recognition. Oh, sure, they stink from all the guts hanging out of their bacteria-ridden holes or sometimes they try to eat your brains, but deep down, zombies just want to earn a trophy for being the best at something -- same as any of us.

A group of St. Louis zombies is hungry for such an honor. The growly ones will gather this Saturday, October 26, at the Lemp Mansion to participate in a global effort to set or break world records for the largest simultaneous "Thriller" dance. Yes, that "Thriller."

See also: So You Wanna Be a Zombie? One day at Ghoul School

Led by certified Stott Pilates instructors Kelly Ruesing and CJ Thomas, the St. Louis group is part of Thrill the World, an annual worldwide event created in 2006 by Ines Markeljevic of Toronto, Canada, to pay tribute to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson and raise funds for local charities. Through Markeljevic's coordination, thousands of undead people around the globe will synchronize watches and perform a special version of the iconic zombie dance from the 1983 video at precisely 4 p.m. Central. Officials will determine if all requirements have been met before declaring any new records.

Ruesing, who owns Studio Rue in Webster Groves, and Thomas, who operates Body by Pilates out of Studio Rue, have led weeks of choreography rehearsals and have scrutinized the rules to ensure that the St. Louis contingent's efforts on Saturday will count toward the official world record attempt. RFT Music chatted with Ruesing and Thomas about why "Thriller" continues to attract so many zombies and how the Lemp Mansion spirits might react to the commotion.

What appealed to you about Thrill the World?

Thomas: I grew up watching Michael Jackson's career grow, and his "Thriller" video was an amazing music video at that time. I also love Halloween, dressing up and dancing!

Ruesing: My decision to do this was based on four things. I've always wanted to do a flashmob. I also have "setting a world record" on my bucket list. The biggest thing that appealed to me was that it was a fun event that I could involve my clients in. Finally, I liked the spirit of the event; since Michael Jackson holds the world record for being the most philanthropic, each event around the world is encouraged to sponsor a charity.

Is this an official Guinness World Record event?

Ruesing: The St. Louis event, in conjunction with all the others around the world, is officially competing for one world record with several organizations. Guinness is just one of them; there are also the World Record Academy and the World Record Republic.

Paws up, little monsters! - Nancy Pasternak | HEC-TV
Nancy Pasternak | HEC-TV
Paws up, little monsters!

Classic zombies, like those in George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," are slow movers. Do you think those zombies are agile enough to dance to "Thriller," or is choreography best left to the fast-moving zombies like the ones in 2009's "Zombieland?"

Thomas: LOL, this choreography is definitely fast paced and energetic, taking creative license with your classic slow-moving zombies. We start out slow but the tempo picks up. Think dead people on Red Bull.

Ruesing: The official choreography used for this event is the exact choreography in the 1983 video. The only thing that has been removed is a head pop and some other minor things, and only for safety purposes since not everyone is a professional dancer. The actual choreography is only three minutes long, but since all world records indicate the length of the dance must be greater than five minutes, the creator of Thrill the World broke down the original choreography into simple phrases and them repeated them throughout the length of the song. It's very easy for even the unfortunately unflexible or rhythmically challenged person to understand.

Seriously, can *anyone* learn the "Thriller" choreography -- even if their dance experience solely consists of being forced to drunkenly spin on a dance floor at a wedding reception with Aunt Patty?

Thomas: Well... the organizer of this worldwide event says that anyone can learn this dance. There are a couple of challenging parts, but all of our non-dancers have really stepped up to the plate and put the time into practice. It is really not so much the steps as it is the rhythm and speed with which the dance is executed. And I think more than skill, the participant needs to have the determination to do it. I have found myself in the position of cheerleading with some of our dancers, encouraging them and pulling them along, telling them that they are doing it! A Japanese proverb says "Fall seven times, stand up eight." That's what we do.

Continue for zombie disaster prevention and Batman zombies.

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