When Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video debuted in 1983, the VCR—which most kids today couldn't pick out of a lineup—had only been around for about seven years and cost far more than today's far superior Blu-ray players. If you wanted to rewatch something, you had to record it when it came on TV—complete with commercials. And if you wanted to learn the dance moves from the most epic music video ever made up to that point, you had to keep rewinding and playing the tape over and over again.
Gen X remembers. Especially when we see high schoolers reenacting the same dance we spent hours trying to perfect and are immediately transported back to our shag-carpeted living rooms with our tube television sets.
Jennifer Hawkins, who teaches dance to kindergarteners through eighth graders at Birney School in Southfield, Michigan, taught a group of students the "Thriller" dance and they performed it perfection in their school hallway. The video was filmed in 2019 and had several waves of virality, this time after being shared by Rex Chapman on Twitter.
Birney Dance Team - Thriller www.youtube.com
The nostalgia this video brings to the people who remember the 1983 video phenomenon and reenacting it as kids (and notably, also remember the era before Michael Jackson fell from grace with the Neverland controversy) is palpable. The choreography of Jackson and the late Micheal Peters has held up remarkably well through the years—despite being nearly four decades old, the moves look fresh coming from these youngsters. And the clear dedication and talent of their teacher makes it even better.
Even if you aren't part of the Gen X generation for whom this video brings back a flood of 1980s memories, the sheer joy of it still impresses. That's the power of dance, the power of art, and the power of a great teacher.
Thank you and your students, Ms. Hawkins, for sharing that power for us all to enjoy.
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