How to do the michael jackson thriller dance



2022 Village Halloween Parade

We are thrilled to invite new dancers (virgins) and old dancers (vets) back to the graveyard this year!

We will resume indoor rehearsals to teach you the dance and bring all zombies together in Central Park for one final outdoor rehearsal. We can't wait to taste...ahem...see you soon.

'Cause this is Thriller

Since 2004, we have celebrated our combined love of gore and Michael Jackson by performing the infamous Thriller dance in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. We are between 17 and a million years old, and our dance experience ranges from novice to professional. We eat brains, grrrrrrrrrowl and bite, but most importantly, we boogie.

This Halloween, leave your mundane human life behind and transform into a rotting, dancing cadaver. After studio rehearsals, outdoor practices in Central Park, and zombie makeup lessons, you'll be hungering for brains in no time.

Learn The Dance

After several restless months clamoring in our coffins, we are pretty stiff. Time to practice the choreography so we don't fall apart out there.

Zombie Bouncers

Have you been decaying too long and don't think you can hobble fast enough for the dance? We have a limited number of zombie bouncer positions available.

Our living spectators often get so excited by our group that they want to join in. We don't want them distracting our zombies with their delicious brains, so it will be up to you to keep them at bay. If you are interested in becoming a zombie bouncer, contact [email protected].

With the ThrillerNYC group, we made it our mission to keep Michael and one of his greatest accomplishments alive. His legend will always live on as the best entertainer to grace this planet.

Makeda Davis


  • Sunday, October 23

    Indoor Rehearsal

    Ballroom Hub
    410-412 8th Ave, NYC

    Masks encouraged

  • Sunday, October 30

    Outdoor Rehearsal

    Naumburg Bandshell
    Central Park, NYC

  • Halloween Parade

    Meeting point and details TBD


Thriller: 7 secrets of Michael Jackson's iconic music video

Michael Jackson in 5 legendary performances


5 Photos

Voir la galerie

Frightening yet magnetic

When Michael Jackson approached John Landis to write and direct Thriller, he also hired his team. Having already collaborated with Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London, John Landis turned to the makeup artist again for Thriller. In the making-of documentary, Rick Baker can be seen creating a face mold of the singer, to later create the famous werewolf head. The goal? Make Michael Jackson scary, but not ugly. The singer's face transforms into a dark creature, but we're still oddly fascinated. For the zombies' makeup, Rick Baker worked around the artist's face, accentuating the prominent bones (the cheekbones, the nose, the eye sockets…) and darkening the shadowy areas (dark circles, cheek hollows…). This gave a ravishing result, remaining loyal to the singer's features while making them more morbid.

Choreography to wake the dead

Having already worked with Michael Jackson on the hit Beat It, Michael Peters was hired to choreograph the Thriller dance. The zombies' legendary moves were created collaboratively by the choreographer and singer. Michael Jackson confessed that the greatest obstacle was bringing the living dead to life: “How can you make zombies and monsters dance without it looking comical? I teamed up with Michael Peters, and we imagined how zombies move around by grimacing in the mirror. I sometimes used to come to rehearsals in monster makeup, and I loved doing that.” Jazzy steps, a jerky walk, and abrupt movements mixed with the pro accuracy of Michael Jackson, his 18 professional dancers, and 4 pop-lock dancers… Thriller has surprised generations and continues to fascinate fans of modern dance.

His first female interaction

Before Thriller, Michael Jackson had shown very little, if any, interest in including women in his videos. For the first time, his character would feature alongside an actress. The role of his girlfriend was first offered to Jennifer Beals, the star of Flashdance, who declined. John Landis' eyes turned to Ola Ray, a wild-child friend of the singer, who would play the ‘frightened girlfriend’ role to perfection. To satisfy his female audience, Michael Jackson was urged to bring out his sensual side; he improvised provocative dance moves around his on-screen girlfriend. Rumors say that the on-screen chemistry between the co-stars played out in real life.

Why is Thriller such a legendary video?

On top of the media storm surrounding Thriller, still to this day the top-selling album of all time with 105 million copies sold, the video caused shockwaves in the music industry. Michael Jackson succeeded in proving to his critics that Black music had a place alongside white artists. Reluctant to air Beat It, the young channel MTV ended up acquiring the rights to Thriller, and attracted an audience 10 times larger than normal for its 2 December 1983 premiere. Also released on VHS, Thriller sold more than 9 million copies — a revolution for the era. More sophisticated, scripted, complex… Thriller transformed music videos into an industry of their own. In 1984, John Landis' short film won 3 awards from MTV: Viewer's Choice, Best Choreography, and Best Overall Performance in a Video. With even more prestige, the 1985 Grammy Awards gave the clip the Best Video award. Even today, Thriller is a reference point for video scripting and choreography, with more than 674 million views on YouTube alone.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller": zombie video as a music lesson

"Tell me, who is Michael Jackson?" Carl Esser had no MTV and no idea of ​​the King of Pop when he was in the US on a student exchange in 1983. Until there was a class about one new music video. "Thriller" was a revelation to German students and led many young people to decide to take a dance class in order to learn the moonwalk.

Nobody knew exactly what they were talking about. One thing was clear: a music video was planned, and there would be no regular music lessons.

Hmm, what could it be? The next morning there was a rumor that our music teacher, Mr. Bjornson, would be giving a class on the new Michael Jackson video. I was wondering who it was - Michael Jackson, but I did not dare to ask the question openly. It seemed like every classmate of mine in 12th grade at Barnesville High School in Minnesota knew who the person whose video we'd be seeing right in front of us was in just over an hour.

Yeah, I thought, this must be interesting, otherwise there wouldn't be so much fuss about it. And before that, I also had a computer science lesson with my ardently and dearly beloved Apple-II computers. Because time passed quickly, and it cost me nothing to wait for a supposedly big event.

"So you never watched MTV?"

Shortly after ten, the time came and the choir hall quickly filled up. Together with my friend Le, I took seats in the upper rows of the hall in order to have a good view of the big screen. "Who is Michael Jackson?" I quietly asked Le. "You don't know Michael Jackson? That doesn't do you credit!" I felt like a backward provincial from an old European woman. "So you've never watched MTV?"

I have already heard about MTV and once even watched the channel for a few minutes at my friend's place. At the time, I was staying with a host family who ran a dairy farm, and there wasn't even cable TV, let alone MTV. I was already glad that on these several channels I could at least watch TV shows: Knight Rider, The Dukes of Hazzard and Magnum P.I. Le lived in the city, and of course he had cable - and therefore MTV.

At my home in Bavaria, at that time they did not know about cable TV. Since the antenna was on the roof, in addition to the obligatory three programs (ARD, ZDF, BR), only a flickering screen, and sometimes a test chart, could be seen on a black-and-white TV. But I never confessed this to my friend Le.

"Bonanza" instead of "Thriller"

Mr. Bjornson, casual as usual, with a toothpick in his teeth, asked for silence in the hall. Everyone listened more or less calmly about Michael Jackson's career with the Jackson Five, and how within a few years, especially after his successful album Off the Wall, he was already recognized all over the world. But now with his new album and in particular the video for the latest hit "Thriller" he has surpassed everything that was before. After this brief preface, he rather touchingly announced the video as if the moon landing was about to begin broadcasting.

He put in a video cassette and pressed "Play". After a brief flicker of the screen, a picture of "Hoss" Cartwright galloping appeared, and the famous music of the Bonanza western series began to play in the hall. Immediately there was a whistle and shouts of "Oooo!"

Clearly embarrassed and annoyed by the incident, Björnson turned off the VCR and pulled out the cassette. "Sorry," he muttered, blushing. - "Sorry guys." He disappeared behind a glass door in the study that served as his office. Through the glass, one could see the incredible mess that was going on in his teacher's music collection. "Found it!" he exclaimed as he reappeared, holding up the cassette as proof, like a pastor in a church with communion bread. He put the tape down nervously and pressed play again.

Dancing zombies and open mouths

The actors were unknown to me, and in the first seconds I felt disappointed. How? So this is that incredible music video? And anyway, why is this clip? It's a movie, and it looks boring on top of that. But the disappointment did not last long. It passed before I could lean over Le to express my displeasure.

The transformation of a young black actor, who I thought was probably Michael Jackson, into a catlike creature with yellow eyes and a zombie appearance, around which more and more monsters were rhythmically gathering. The masks were perfect, but the dance routines showed dynamics and choreography that I had never seen before.

We must all be frozen in our seats with our mouths open, staring at the TV screen. Almost ten minutes of absolute concentration. Then the video ended. For the first moments everyone was stunned silent, but then several voices demanded from Bjornson: "One more time!" He didn't try to protest, just rewound the cassette and hit play again. This time we saw more details, perceived the video differently and heard the music better. It was, without a doubt, a revelation. It surpassed anything we had seen before, and not only musically!

Moonwalk dance teacher

After the second viewing, the frenzy started - everyone wanted to say something, many shared that they had a cold shiver running down their backs. "Awesome!" - this was the most popular definition for describing that event. It was amazing, great, powerful, wonderful. Top notch event.

Video and music were all discussed again in the following sessions. Some time after the appearance of other videos from the Thriller album on MTV, Le began to imitate the famous "moonwalk" of Michael Jackson. He wanted to learn how to dance like Michael Jackson - and he wasn't the only one.

Sometime in the early nineties (we didn't lose sight of each other after my year-long internship) Le wrote to me that he had been taking dance lessons for several weeks from a teacher in Minneapolis who was already the choreographer for Michael Jackson and Prince. When we next saw each other, he showed me his skills. To be honest? Surely Michael Jackson would have died laughing...

Michael Jackson's impressive record "Thriller" is 40 years old!

The dance swirls, the intensity of the energy, the real passion and the variety of compositional material presented on Michael Jackson's 40th anniversary album Thriller are simply amazing! Let's talk about this further.

Himself Michael Jackson is a singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, dancer, choreographer, actor, screenwriter, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Having lived only 50 years, he became one of the most successful performers in the history of world pop music. Michael is known as the "King of Pop", having won 15 Grammy Awards and dozens of other awards.

All this is certainly true. We, before analyzing the reasons for the crazy success of the Thriller record, will briefly go through (as it was fashionable to say once) the "stages" of the artist's work biography. Where an important role was played by his parents and their craving for music, dancing, singing, which they did their best to instill in their numerous offspring, creating the formation of The Jackson Five (5). It was in her, at the quite tender age of 4 years (that is, at 1963) our main character began his bright musical journey. Undoubtedly, the discoveries of Little Richard , Bo Diddley , Chuck Berry , Muddy Waters and other great musicians influenced the development of Michael Jackson's music.

No wonder that already 13 years old, that is, in 1971, his first single "Got To Be There" (the same was later called Michael's debut album) glorified Jackson on both sides of the Atlantic. The stage of cooperation between The Jackson Five and the famous Motown label, which released the first albums of Michael and The Jackson Five, is very curious. The Motown label itself was founded in 1960 songwriter Berry Gordy , who had a remarkable entrepreneurial vein. Berry (like the equally talented Phil Spector ) managed to "raise" the money on hit records he created for popular artists in the late 1950s, such as Jackie Wilson's and Barret Strong's . In addition to his literary and business gifts, Gordy had a good eye for talented artists. In order to adequately present the musicians patronized by his label to the public, he did not stop at nothing. Berry hired the best producers, arrangers and other specialists for them. He taught his proteges manners, creating the most comfortable working conditions for them.

His regime and guardianship were sometimes strict. Berry (like almost any boss) was a kind of dictator and did not tolerate unnecessary liberties. Production at his studio was stereotypical for the time. However, the game was worth the candle. Since Gordy managed to bring a lot of pop stars “to people” (among which such celebrities shone as: Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations , etc.) by making a number of sophisticated recordings of dance music, light rhythm and blues and soul, characteristic of the era of the 1960s.

But Motown was not alone in its pursuit of excellence. So, another major record label, MGM, which competed with Motown at that time, also decided to play in this field and, as a “white” answer to the close-knit Jackson family, began to promote The Osmonds brigade (arr. in 1960). Where vocal Donny Osmond vocalized. The Osmonds' debut album, titled "The Osmonds" (1971), was also well received by the general public, becoming "gold" over time. Donnie's pop single "Sweet and Innocent" (like the Michael Jackson single) entered the top ten of the then American hit parade and had millions of sales. Subsequently, Donnie did not become as popular as Michael, but somehow managed to maintain a good relationship with him, even playing for a while at 1990s as part of his concert group as the second keyboardist.

By the end of the 1970s, interest in the works of both gifted families began to decline, although the labels warmed their hands well on their musical opuses. But unlike the collective work of The Jackson Five (later the group was called simply The Jacksons), Michael Jackson's solo work continued to flourish. In 1979, the famous Quincy Jones became the producer of the dance album “Off The Wall”, who was able to present to the public the image of a new, matured, more experienced and well-studied show business Michael Jackson, who was in full accordance with the spirit of the times. Michael's next album titled "One Day In Your Life" (1981) also sold well. Then there was a collection from the series "Best Of" (1981), summing up the achievements of Jackson for his 22nd birthday, after which it is the turn of the "Thriller" we are studying.

The pop music scene of the early 1980s was not exactly dull and conservative, but stagnant, gradually recovering from the disco bacchanalia of the 1970s (which we wrote about ). Producers and labels, therefore, gave some proven artists of the genre (and Michael Jackson, as we can see, consistently churned out quite a quality product for pop music that was in demand among fans) some maneuver for experiments. What became "Thriller" ("Thriller" - in Russian "Horror"), which proved to the world how independent, influential and "deadly" as a genre, pop music had become by that time!

Michael Jackson (photo: Wikimedia Commons/Constru-centro)

"Horror" on its release in late November 1982 was both musically (and in terms of professional sound) very tightly tailored. His shortcomings are skillfully disguised, and his merits are emphasized in every possible way. The number and quality of invited guests who participated in its creation is impressive. First of all, Michael Jackson himself distinguished himself, who sang on vocals, backing vocals, played drums, and also arranged his vocals, rhythm, drums, strings, wind instruments, stomp box and became a co-producer of the record. Paul Jackson played guitar; Lewis Johnson - bass; Steve Lukather - guitar and bass; Dean Parks - guitar; David Williams - guitar.

Rod Temperton designed keyboards and synthesizers; Anthony Marinelli was responsible for programming the synthesizers; David Paich for keyboards, synthesizers and programming; Greg Feelinganes for keyboards, synthesizers and programming; Steve Porcaro for keyboards, synthesizers and programming Bill Wolfer for keyboards and synthesizers. David Foster for keyboards and synthesizers; Brian Banks for keyboards, synthesizers and programming; Michael Boddicker - for keyboards and synthesizers.

Ndugu Chancler was in charge of the drum set; Paulino da Costa played drums; Jeff Porcaro also played drums, arranged brass and strings. Bill Reichenbach played trombone; Larry Williams - on saxophone and flute; Chris Shepard - on vibraslap on "Beat It"; Jerry Hay - on trumpet and flugelhorn; Gary Grant - on trumpet and flugelhorn.

Paul McCartney sang vocals on "The Girl Is Mine"; Eddie Van Halen provided the guitar riffs on "Beat It". Vincent Price , a horror movie star who had previously done the same trick on one of the 9 albums, was invited to deliver a monologue in the title track.0017 Alice Cooper . He showed off a demonic voice-over on the track "Thriller". La Toya Jackson and Janet Jackson sang backing vocals on P. Y.T. Quincy Jones again had a hand in producing the album and arranging the sound, with whom Michael had significant disagreements on a number of songs (like "Billie Jean"). At the final stage of mixing, the two of them even shoveled the entire album, re-arranging it. The sound engineer was Bruce Swieden.

"Thriller" begins with the not-so-smooth "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (with a lot of attention to tabloid gossip). It continues, literally oozing with molasses "Baby Be Mine" and "The Girl Is Mine" (in the text of which Jackson argued with Paul McCartney over the love of a beautiful girl). But, it's all "eyeliner" to the very essence of the album. Since, for real, the plot of the disc plays out towards the middle of it. When the delights of the first side of the disc literally "explode" an impressive anthem, designed in the form of an almost 14-minute paranoid epic track "Thriller", with a catchy and blood-curdling video sequence created by film industry professionals. The video for this composition was created later, at 1983, already after the recording and release of the album, when it was decided to stimulate its sales by using some unusual move. Curiously, by the early 1980s, video clips had become a worldwide phenomenon. They were constantly on TV. Many self-respecting artists listened to their producers and starred in video clips. Their quality varied. There were both masterpieces and not very high-quality works. Then the video clips were given to the rotation. For example, to the music channel MTV, which had already been created by that time and was gaining weight every year, rapidly replacing music broadcasting radio stations. Otherwise, it was somehow undignified.

It so happened that Jackson, on a tip from one of his acquaintances, made acquaintance with the famous film director John Landis London") and other pearls. Landis, in turn, recommended makeup artist Rick Baker to Michael. The result of their collaboration was a phenomenal for those times, almost 14-minute, thematic video clip "Thriller" (hand on heart, I must admit that in the 2020s it has not lost its entertainment - ed.)! In the video, the introduction of various stage sound and light special effects, the application of makeup, the wearing of masks and unusual costumes of the musicians was encouraged and practiced in every possible way. The music video for "Thriller" really raised the level of investment in video production in general. Since then, the video clip has become as much an integral part of the promotion as the recording of the song itself. Another highlight was the fact that "before the success of Thriller, many felt that Jackson had to struggle for a very long time to get on MTV, as African-American videos were not accepted into rotation"!

Horror movie monster (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/J. Searle Dawley)

Let's get back to the record. The otherworldly rhythm of “Thriller” is quite successfully continued by the hard, sometimes funky beat of “Beat It”, where Jackson reeled from the heart, fully demonstrating his famous dance steps and remarkable plasticity, in addition, having managed to focus the attention of the video clip viewers on the acute social issues of teenage city ​​gangs. The choreography of the clip later served as a model for hundreds of dance groups that successfully copied its findings. The dance-like "Billie Jean" (which tells about the claims to the paternity of a young tear-off), the sad "Human Nature", the iridescent "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and the final "The Lady in My Life" are charming and no less full of passion than the rest of the compositions.

“For the recording of Thriller, the most modern 24-track analog technology at that time was used, but it was used outside the box: when the number of recorded tracks did not fit on tape, they synchronized from 4 to 5 24-track devices. Thus, more than a hundred tracks could be used to record one song. Because of these features, "the technology was called by its creators" Acusonic Recording Process ". In 1982, new digital recording methods were already in full swing in the studios. Thriller was recorded on the frontier between digital and analog, and was one of the last albums of the pre-digital era."0003


The lyrics and ideas of the CD's songs were mainly invented by Michael Jackson. Some of the songs from Thriller are by Rod Temperton (2.9), Steve Porcaro and John Bettis of Toto (7), James Ingram and Quincy Jones (8). In the cover design, a photograph was used, where Michael Jackson himself reclines in a snow-white suit, looking intently and immodestly directly into the eyes of the viewer.

On its release in 1982, "Thriller" dug into the top ten of the music charts. And with the release of the video clip for the track of the same name, the excitement skyrocketed, bringing the disc the status of "best selling". The interest in him from the public, as well as his sales remain stable until now. The album was ranked #12 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. The total number of different records of Michael Jackson sold in the world (albums, singles, compilations, etc.) is 1 billion copies!

M. Jackson's Star on the Musical Walk of Fame (photo: Wikimedia Commons/German Wikipedia)

Concluding the article, we can recall the famous "moon" walk of Michael Jackson, the sliding movements of which (to the best of his ability) tried to copy every person who tried to dance break dance. And his subsequent, which caused great dislike among the puritans and numerous scandals, the sexy video clips "Bad", "Dangerous" or "Black or White", again said a new word in choreography and overcoming racial barriers between people. It turned out that it was from the beginning of 19In the 1980s, Michael Jackson took on the glittering crown of the "King of Pop". And she no longer got off his troubled head until the death of the artist, despite all the scandals, gossip, rumors and crazy antics that accompanied Michael (which became more and more over time).

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