How to do the thriller dance

Teacher and her students expertly performing the 'Thriller' dance is pure Gen X bliss

When biology professor Dr. Austin Shull received an important email from one of his students, he likely expected it to be about a homework assignment. Instead, the assignment was for him. If he was up to the task, that is.

With her subject line reading “REALLY IMPORTANT,” the student explained how she was currently in the online queue to purchase highly coveted Taylor Swift tickets, but her anatomy practicum class was fast approaching. You can see the conundrum.

The proposal was simple—if Dr. Shull agreed to watch her spot in line on her laptop while she took the class, it would make her “entire year.” Keeping in theme, her email concluded, “please please please don’t be the anti-hero.” For those that live under a rock, “Anti-Hero” is one of Swift’s latest singles. Where have you been?

Anyway, Shull agreed. And not only did he make his student’s entire year, he melted hearts from sharing his story.

Shull posted the email to his Twitter, along with the quip, “You have to serve many roles when you’re a professor and advisor…” and it wasn’t long before the tweet went viral.

The professor then clarified with another tweet saying “for those asking did I oblige the student’s request…” along with a picture of the student's laptop showing the Ticketmaster screen. More than 2,000 were ahead in line. Such is the power of T Swift, people.

After that, Dr. Shull was being hailed as “professor of the century” for his act of kindness.

One person noted, “Seriously, Professors like you are who we remember. Who make a difference! You understand that things, life, outside of school does exist. And life experiences can mean so much!! It's a small thing but probably meant so much to her.”

For those asking did I oblige the student’s request… com/tZX62FFJfz

— Austin Young Shull (@YoungShull) November 15, 2022

Other professors apparently found themselves in similar situations. One shared that they allowed their students to “set up the laptops on a spare table and watched them through 3 hours of dissection. I was just jealous cause I didn't get into the pre-sale!”

Just check out this outpouring of love below.

My mental health really needed this today. Thanks for not being the antihero lol 😂

— Jenneccentric.eth  (@jenneccentric) November 16, 2022

An icon for us all

— Erika | EBD (@miss0amerika) November 15, 2022

This is fantastic. Bravo 👏

— mr. t (@Flipper_san) November 16, 2022

In the end, Dr. Shull’s generosity paid off, because the student succeeded in not only nabbing concert tickets, but she “did well on her practicum too,” according to his subsequent post.

This feat is all the more remarkable considering that scoring tickets to the latest Taylor Swift concert has been the source of stress and drama for many a Swiftie. So high was the demand for entry into the beloved pop singer’s Eras Tour that Ticketmaster announced that it would cancel general public ticket sales, a decision that caused dismay not only among fans, but Swift herself, who sent an Instagram story sharing that the experience has been “excruciating.”

@graceh00ver got her tickets everyone!!! (Oh and i think she did well on her lab practicum too 😉)

— Austin Young Shull (@YoungShull) November 15, 2022

You don’t have to be a Taylor Swift fan to know how life changing it can be when someone is supportive of your passions. Great teachers do this in so many ways, and Dr. Shull’s story is just another sweet example. Kudos to him for leaning into his compassion and understanding that joy is just as important as classwork, and for clearly making his students feel safe enough to be themselves around him. This professor played his role of “hero” perfectly.

Why we love to dance Thriller — MyCharleston

As Halloween approaches, the soundtrack to Michael Jackson’s Thriller will soon be heard blaring out of dance studios worldwide. So why do we still get such a thrill from dancing Thriller?

Jackson’s Thriller routine is famously recognisable all over the world and is still learnt by thousands of people young and old. For me the magic of Thriller is that the dance routine is quite easy to learn. Like many great pieces of work it is simple and yet dynamic to watch. But the real magic is that the dancers take on the character of a zombie. This is so liberating because the pressure to look cool and stylish as a dancer is gone. In fact, you need to look decidedly stiff as you begin the routine with a zombie styled walk accented with a head twitch.

The routine contains a number of simple Zombie walks which are so effective that I still remember how spellbound I was when I first saw it in 1983. Back then music videos were a new genre and Thriller took this medium to a new level, with dancing, costumes and a narrative. Thriller has a Shakespearian quality to it as it presents a story, within a story – within a story. The inspiration came from the film An American Werewolf in London. Whilst the song and the video have stood the test of time, it is the dance routine which everyone watches and wants to learn.  

The Choreographer was Michael Peters, nicknamed ‘The Gran Varones’, his work includes Broadways acclaimed musical Dreamgirls and the film Sister Act. However, Peters is most famous for his work on music videos where he collaborated with artist such as Donna Summer, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross and of course Michael Jackson. Speaking about his experience of working with Michael Peters, Jackson said;

“ It was a delicate thing to work on because I remember my original approach was, ‘How do you make zombies and monsters dance without it being comical?’ So I said, ‘We have to do just the right kind of movement so it doesn’t become something that you laugh at. ’ But it just has to take it to another level. So I got in a room with Michael Peters, and he and I together kind of imagined how these zombies move by making faces in the mirror. I used to come to rehearsal sometimes with monster makeup on, and I loved doing that. So he and I collaborated and we both choreographed the piece and I thought it should start like that kind of thing and go into this jazzy kind of step, you know. Kind of gruesome things like that, not too much ballet or whatever.” -Michael Jackson

The dance talent of Jackson himself is what really brings this dance piece to life – forgive the pun! His perfect execution of each move is made even more incredible when you discover that he had no formal training and was entirely self-taught. He believed “the greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.” He himself learnt by watching classic entertainers such as Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, and Charlie Chaplin. Michael had a strong work ethic and practiced endlessly until he could pop, lock, and moonwalk at a level unseen by the world.

Michael Jackson’s dancing has always inspired me and in my interpretation of the Thriller routine I have tried to include simple moves, which look effective. The starting point in the workshop is to discover your ‘Inner Zombie’ with some travel moves. This is then developed into a move which I call ‘Zombie climbs through a window’ I love this move because you get to engage your imagination and be playful.

The routine has some of the most iconic moves including everyone’s favourite - Zombie with Monster Hands! This is when the Zombies cross lines with a side to side walking move.  It’s one of those moves which just feels good when you dance it. It’s also one of the most iconic moves from the video, so there is a real sense of achievement when people master this one.  We end the routine with Jackson’s classic move in which his finger points to the sky as he sings ‘Ow’ then we all melt to the ground in a Zombie pile up.

The dance workshop is open to a range of abilities whether you are a beginner adult dancer or experienced, the focus is on being playful and having fun. We would definitely encourage you to dress up so we can really get into the spirit of things, and if you are up for it you can take part in the video at the end of the class. If you want to bring children, we would love to have them but do contact us before booking so we can check it is suitable for their age and dance level. 

The Thriller dance workshop is taking place on Halloween weekend. We are running two dance classes so you can learn online or join us in the dance studio.  All the details are below and a link so you can book your space and join us for the ‘Thrill’ of your life! Wa, ha, ha!

Online Zoom Workshop, Friday 29th October, 6.30pm - 7.30pm

In-studio Workshop, Saturday 30th October 2-4pm, Brighton University dance studios

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

The dance swirls, the intensity of energy, 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 famous 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, in 1963), that our main character began his bright musical path. Undoubtedly, the discovery of Little Richard , Bo Diddley , Chuck Berry , Muddy Waters and other great musicians.

No wonder that already 13 years old, that is, in 1971, his first single "Got To Be There" (the same name was later given to 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 wane, 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”, which was able to present the public with the image of a new, matured, more experienced and well-studied show business Michael Jackson, who was in line with the spirit of the time. 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 guitar; Steve Lukather - guitar and bass; Dean Parks - guitar; David Williams - guitar.

Rod Temperton designed keyboards and synthesizers; Anthony Marinelli was responsible for the programming of 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.0005 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).

Learn more