Interested in becoming a zombie? Thriller Parade taking auditions


Kentuckians lined downtown Lexington, Kentucky on Sunday, October 29, 2017 to watch the annual Halloween Thriller parade. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Sarah Halsey

The Mecca Dance Studio puts on a legendary Thriller parade every October around Halloween, and this year is no exception.

The studio will soon be hosting its annual auditions for the Lexington Thriller parade, specifically for the parts of Michael Jackson and Ola on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Artworks at Carver Center on 522 Patterson St. in Lexington, Kentucky.

There will be multiple people playing both Jackson and Ola. In previous years, there have been as many as six people playing each part. At auditions, hopefuls will be asked to show that they know the Thriller choreography. They will be paired up randomly and will most likely run the routine multiple times.

Mecca Dance Studio’s goal is to have 10 people audition for both Jackson and Ola. There is even an opportunity for a kid to play a young version of Jackson in Thriller, too. The auditions are open to everyone who is interested. Showmanship, mannerisms and chemistry between the characters are important and is taken into consideration for casting.

Founder of Mecca Dance Studio Teresa Tomb, some of the studio’s own dancers and local celebrities make up the staff of judges. Some Lexington Parks and Recreation representatives will also observe the auditions because the Thriller parade falls under the city’s “recreation” category.

“As college students, you can get really isolated into college life and your perspective of community often revolves around the university,” Tomb said. She believes that a huge component of Lexington culture is the Thriller parade because it is such a strong tradition.

The Lexington Mecca Dance Studio is the first organization to put on a Thriller parade, starting in 2002. The original show included one Jackson and about fifty zombies.

“[There is] something liberating about stepping into bizarre characters because it allows you to step outside of yourself” to experience something that you would not have otherwise, Tomb said. She described one of the goals of Mecca Dance Studio as “creating accessible community art,” which she believes Thriller is because it is so iconic.

The Thriller showcase will start at at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 with the parade following at 8:00 p.m. Thriller will be the grand finale of the parade, lasting about 45 minutes in total.

Rehearsals start in the beginning of October and the group will rehearse three times a week. Rehearsals are important to Tomb because they build up an aspect of community among the cast, which ultimately benefits the audience too.