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I think it’s safe to say that there was a before “Thriller” and an after “Thriller.”

The 1983 phenomenon upped the standards for music videos and solidified Michael Jackson as not just a star singer, but an all-around star entertainer. The most terrifying aspects of the video have become the stuff of legend, including the make-up, the fashion and of course, the dancing.

Choreography was laid down by Michael Peters, who choreographed the 1981 musical Dreamgirls and M.J.’s own “Beat It” music video. Michael also assisted with the moves and according to the 1983 documentary The Making of “Thriller,” the dance routine involved 18 professional dancers and four poppers and lockers.

Once the roster of dancer zombies hit the cold, foggy, pavement in the video, nothing was the same.

People around the world started mimicked the scary claw hands, the epic shoulder action, and the earth-shattering thunder-claps.


Soon, many artists only dreamed of creating a visual just as scary and entertaining as “Thriller.”

Of course, only a few lived up to the epicness of the video and it took M.J. himself to top his own work.

In 1996, Michael released more terror with his 39-minute short film Michael Jackson’s Ghost. The choreography was complete with dancing skeletons, more of the dancing dead, and M.J. disguised as a chubby White mayor.

Naturally, it was fire.


Fast forward to today and dancers now have more opportunities to bring choreographed scares to life thanks to the Internet.

Some have pulled straight from Michael Jackson with their own Thriller tribute videos or flash mobs.


Others have decided to pull from recent horror flicks such as 2013’s The Purge. Choreographer and dancer Anuar Zamora definitely brought the chills with his Halloween Special.


If specific people give you the creeps such as clowns or nuns, the ODD Dance School definitely tapped into people’s darkest fears with The Nun Halloween Dance choreographed by Bao.


Specific dance styles also brought the creepy moves.

Chicago footwork dancer Pausegonkill gave Mike Myers all the steps for The Return video…


Meanwhile, the poppers BendYaMind, Poppin John and Malthe caused quite the disturbance with their Dubstep Halloween routine…


Chihiro decided to include elements of waacking into her creepy Catholic routine…


Even afrobeat took a dip in horror with the Meka Oku-choreographed Halloween video…


Whether you’re a major star, a celebrated street dancer or a skilled choreographer, “Thriller”s impact is evident in the dance world.

No matter if you’re getting dressed up for Halloween or embracing your fears during the year’s spookiest nights, hopefully, some fire moves can bring you a bit of joy in the terror.


Legacy: The Scariest Dance Routines Since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”  was originally published on