The Halloween spirit makes people do strange things. Some consume their body mass in candy. Some dress up as sexy Dora the Explorer and ruin everyone’s childhood memories. It’s a time to celebrate mass murder, dismemberment, and other wacky misadventures with late night movie marathons. And this year at Stony Brook University, the Halloween spirit brought together a group of students to learn and perform the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.
You may have seen this cluster of zombies take over the SAC plaza during Campus Lifetime on October 26. During the flash mob, the nine participating dancers channeled their inner Michael Jackson and the dancers’ writhing, hip thrusts, and general zombie antics brought a welcome bit of whimsy to the busy lives of passersby. The zombie flash mob was only the beginning of the “Thriller” adventure.
On October 29, students gathered in the Tabler Black Box Theater and used their “Thriller” skills to help break a world record. The global organization that sponsors the event is called Thrill the World. Their goal is to have as many people as possible worldwide simultaneously dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Since its inception, Thrill the World has broken the world record three times; the number to beat for this year is 23,000 people. This is the first time Thrill the World has been brought to the students of Stony Brook University, and this group makes up one of 227 groups that span over 30 countries.
All of this could never have been accomplished were it not for the determined efforts of Thomas Mittiga, who is in his third year at Stony Brook University. What began as an RA program spread quickly across Tabler Quad and other parts of campus. Not only did Mittiga organize and teach dance rehearsals for three weeks leading up to the events, he and his RA committee planned the logistics for both the flash mob and the world record attempt.
Mittiga’s ambitions this year were heavily inspired by a high school experience, when he first discovered “Thriller” and helped to break the first world record in 2007. At the time, he was just beginning take dance lessons. Michael Jackson’s smooth moves inspired him, and since then, Mittiga has been performing the dance at weddings and school events.
He cites “Thriller” as the perfect dance for people from any background because the basic moves are simple and easy to pick up. Though Michael Jackson’s style is inimitable, Mittiga believes that energy is the key to giving a successful performance of “Thriller.” “You just have to be enthusiastic and get into the right character.”
If you missed out on all the “Thriller” fun this year, don’t fret. The event will be back in time for Halloween next year. For more information on the global event, see thrilltheworld.com.