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Thrill the World 2018 Raises Funds for Communities in Rwanda

Thrill the World Thousand Oaks happens every year on the Cal Lutheran campus as part of a worldwide event. It is hosted by Professor Barbara Wegher-Thompson and her Introduction to Dance class, which I am a part of. But what is Thrill the World? Is it Thriller? Is it Heal the World? Maybe it’s meant to scare everyone on Earth at once. 


Thrill the World is a global event that occurs annually on the Saturday before Halloween in honor of the late Michael Jackson’s iconic song, Thriller. This year, it occurred on October 27th. It was created by Canadian native, Ines Markeljevic, in 2006, whose “personal mission it is to unite the world through dance.” She taught the dance to a group of 62 people, all dressed as zombies, and they made their way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Largest Thriller Dance in One Location.” It had people of all ages, both young and old, coming together to share this amazing experience. One year later, “Thrill Toronto” became “Thrill the World” and over 1,700 people from 17 countries joined in on the exciting, now international event. Year after year, it just continues to grow and gain more support with people hoping to break the world record for the “Largest Simultaneous Thriller Dance.”

                                                                         Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The whole event at Cal Lutheran was student-run in addition to the guidance of our fearless leader, Professor Wegher-Thompson. We took turns working check-in, concessions, the crafts table, and even teaching the dance to participants. We had many newcomers in addition to those who had done their fair share of thrilling in the past. It was so amazing to be able to create this supportive community in which there was no judgment. How could we judge when were all dressed as zombies, covered in fake blood? We were all working toward the same goal of having fun and paying tribute to the King of Pop, a man who was a very formative and influential figure in many of our lives. Personally, I could never forget the impact his music had on me after he passed away, and being able to pay my respects to him through dancing to his song was such a joy for me. It was like my way of thanking him for everything he had done to better this world with the power of music. Even after 10 years since his death, he still manages to stay in our hearts and memories, and his legacy continues to lives on.

                                                                         Photo courtesy of Pixabay

On this day, we not only danced and had a good time, but we also accepted donations. All of the proceeds are meant to go straight to World Dance for Humanity. This organization works locally, but their main focus is on the work that they do in Rwanda, a country still suffering the consequences of the genocide that occurred in 1994. This group was created by Janet Reineck, who was looking to form “a community of people reaching beyond themselves to make a real change in the world.” While in Rwanda, Janet and her team bring people together through movement and help provide to provide various ways of sustainability for the small, developing Collectives, the name that they call their communities. They help those in need with food, livestock, and training for valuable skills that they can use to make a living and provide for their families.

                                                                         Photo courtesy of Pixabay

In the end, Thrill the World Thousand Oaks was a resounding success. We were able to get into the Halloween spirit a few days in advance, while simultaneously doing some good for Rwanda. I am proud to say I was a part of this spooky, memorable day to which I know I will be returning for years to come.  

Bianca Akbiyik

Cal Lutheran '22

A theatre major with a love of writing and storytelling.
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