The Making of a ‘Thriller’
An anticipated tradition once again was held in front of the Historic Terminal Station as Macon celebrated the 9th Annual Thriller Zombie Parade. The event, a recreation of Michael Jackson’s iconic music video “Thriller” sponsored by Hayiya Dance Theater, was well attended and, as in previous years, lived up to all expectations. It was a wonderfully open and family friendly event presided over by Hayiya Dance Theatre director, Pilar Wilder, who was assisted in organizing the dancers by many volunteer sub-group leaders.
The Thriller dance first came to Macon when Brad and Megan Evans, publishers of the 11th Hour, founded the event in 2005 as a way to bring the community together as a flash mob style impromptu gathering. The Evans enlisted Margie Wright and Jaokeen Balcom—the original “Michael”—to oversee a crowd that eventually gathered between Cherry and Third Streets. Wilder had been teaching the Thriller dance as part of her classes at Hayiya, so they recruited her as a consultant to the event. She was brought in to help out with the choreography and eventually came with 60 to 80 of her students to participate in the event.
“That first year was electric,” stated Wilder. “Even though the Thriller dance was an annual tradition in many other parts of the country, the Central Georgia community had never seen anything like it. Brad and Megan were true visionaries!”
Pilar Wilder has been working as leader and choreographer of the Thriller dance in Macon since the event’s second year. Because of her passion for dance in the community, she has managed to morph the event into a full-fledged family event that not only features a 15-minute recreation of the video dance, but includes a pre-show with an outdoor movie and a street party after the dance.
For this year’s event, Wilder recruited 100 “dancing zombie” participants. Through a series of “casting calls,” she required interested parties to attend regularly-held one-hour rehearsals in Tattnall Square Park every Thursday in October leading up to the performance.
The Thriller Zombie Parade occured on Friday, October 25, in front of a highly-charged crowd that had gathered two hours earlier. While awaiting the invasion of the zombies in the plaza, the crowd enjoyed an outdoor movie and pre-show that featured local dancers, musicians, vocalists, and lots of audience participation.
Planning currently is underway for the next dance, which will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Thriller dance in Macon. Wilder is looking forward to having the addition of a zombie parade around the pavilion, an appearance of a Michael Jackson impersonator, and other special features to be announced as planning for the event unfolds.
Hayiya Dance Theater hosted a grand block party in 2013—check out these photos taken at the Thriller Zombie Parade.