Photo Briefs

A ‘Thrilling’ Flashmob in the Works

Dancers practiced their best zombie impressions Sunday while rehearsing for the Chicago Thriller flashmob, which will take place this Halloween.

The annual Chicago Thriller flashmob will take to the streets in the North Halsted Halloween parade on Oct. 31 for the group’s sixth year performing. Rehearsal took place on Sunday at a dance studio in Jones College Prep School (700 S. State St).

Troy Hilbrands started the dance group in 2012. Hilbrands and Julie Dahlinger, co-organizer and instructor, have been involved all six years. Other than dressing up as zombies, Hilbrands spends his time organizing events for Dardanus Productions and Dahlinger manages Executive Services at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

The performance group was created to help promote another event that Hilbrands was involved in. The performance was such a hit that Hilbrands and Dahlinger decided to make it an annual event. The group learns Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” choreography over six weekly rehearsals leading up to the Halloween performance.

While Hilbrands was one of the original creators of the dance group, Dahlinger said she accidentally came into the job.

“Because of an injury the first year, I helped take over,” Dahlinger said.

She has been with the group ever since, and said she comes back every year because she loves seeing everyone come together and improve over the six-week rehearsal period.

“It’s really exciting for the crowd,” Hilbrands said. “Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ is a classic.”

The class adopted a zombie theme in acting and choreography. To warm up, the dancers played a round of zombie freeze tag. Twisted arms, cricked necks and zombie moans accompanied the game.

The dancers practiced to the chorus of the iconic choreography from Jackson’s “Thriller” music video. Dahlinger ran through the dance from the top as members followed along.

Some of the dancers have danced with the group for years and some are new, but all are welcomed into the group, regardless of dance experience. Auditions aren’t necessary, but a $5 fee, which contributes to the cost of renting the studio, is required. Dahlinger teaches each participant the right moves to transform the group into the famous “Thriller” zombies.

The 2017 Chicago Thriller season saw the dancers’ first performance outside of a Halloween performance. The group danced at the Monster Ball on Oct. 7, sponsored by the For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships to students studying pastry arts.

The “Thriller” dance group has expanded since 2012. The group’s Meetup page now has 276 “zombies.”

“We are growing about 10 people every year,” Hilbrands said. “We’d like to see ourselves grow into more performances and to expand outside of the parade.”
The group’s final performance will take place at the North Halsted Halloween parade from 5-10pm on Oct. 31. The group will be performing the dance six times throughout the parade route from Halsted Street to Belmont Avenue to Addison Street.

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