Valley dancers part of international “Thriller” event

Sep 8, 2015

Area residents practice a variation of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance. Led by the Coredination Studio, the group will perform outside in Carbondale on Saturday, October 24th as part of an international event called "Thrill the World."
Credit Elise Thatcher

Dancers young and old are participating in an event called “Thrill the World” this fall. A studio in Carbondale is coordinating rehearsals, and a final performance that’s part of a world-wide event. We stopped by a one practice session to get a taste of what it’s like to learn the complicated “Thriller” dance.


Alexandra Jerkunica leads a studio full of women through lots of stomps and swings and booty shaking. They’re all part of the detailed “Thriller” dance, made famous by the late Michael Jackson. “You start with walking and then you add a shoulder lift,” Jerkunica describes. “And you tilt your head a few times to your one shoulder.”

She’s with the Coredination Studio, and is especially patient with tonight’s class, through this next part. “That’s where it starts to feel more jazzy, about a third of the way in, and the tempos pretty fast, so that’s when everybody starts to become very audible in there dance. Like, ‘Uh oh! I can’t keep up!’ ”

Nearly twenty dancers shuffle and shake their way, some more graceful than others. Everyone has brows furrowed until Jerkunica adds in the song “Thriller,” then there’s smiles all around. “At first I’d never done it before, I’d only seen what I’d seen on TV,” says Tessa Lemke. “And I thought oh my gosh, it’s not the 15 minute [dance] is it?!” She’s been to several rehearsals, and is loving it. Dancing to “Thriller” is not for the faint of heart, she points out. “Crouching low on your thighs, knees-- you know, down on the ground like that, in a low squat like that for 5 minutes… is pretty hard. But you get used to it after a while,” Lemke laughs.

“My favorite move is the roar step where you have the big zombie claws going,” says Jerkunica. “And you turn side to side and you walk. I think it’s a pretty great move. And it says a lot. It’s classic for Michael Jackson.”

Jackson died in 2009. For years he had been surrounded by controversy and troubling child abuse allegations. For this group, the “Thrill the World” event will honor his musical and dancing talent. Jerkunica and her dancers will bring their moves to an outdoor location on Saturday, October 24th, possibly outside the Carbondale branch library.