Ghosts and ghouls, witches and werewolves, mummies and monsters will fill the streets on Oct. 27 — and they will all be wearing their dancing shoes.
Decked out in their best zombie fare, dancers gather each year at the close of Scare on the Square in downtown Statesboro to bring the “Thriller” dance to life. This year, however, things will be a bit different.
After about a decade of the “Thriller” dance, organizers felt it was time for a change. Anastasia Brown, who is coordinating the dance number, has been involved with the event over the years, having danced in it many times herself. This year, she is teaching a new number, and excited for the community to see it.
“We had been doing ‘Thriller’ for about 10 years, and it just seemed like time for something different, a change,” she said. “We also wanted to do something that was more family-oriented, and something that everyone could do, not too spooky.”
This year’s dance won’t just be performed to the “Thriller” song — it also will incorporate lots of Halloween favorites, including “Monster Mash,” Werewolf in London” and some new, modern music. Brown promises it will bring the creepy, calling it the “Monster Mashup.”
Brown wouldn’t give too many details about the choreography, saying she wants it to be a surprise. So far, about 20 dancers have turned up to participate, but Brown is hopeful that the number will at least double in the coming weeks. There’s still plenty of time to attend rehearsals and learn the dance steps, which she says are not difficult at all.
“The dancing this year is not as complicated as what people have seen in the past. We are really trying to make it much more of something that the entire family could come and do,” she said, adding that people of all ages are welcome to participate. The group currently includes children as young as 8 years old, up to adults in their 50s.
Brown says no one has to have a dance background in order to participate.
“I don’t want to say that it’s easy, but I don’t want people to think that they’ll just go out there and walk around. But you don’t have to have a dance background at all,” she said.
Brown added that if dance isn’t your thing, volunteers are also needed to help with Scare on the Square’s haunted house and haunted hayride. The event will also feature a costume contest, pumpkin patch, face painting, truck-or-treat, shopping, games and more.
Those participating this year who have dance in the event in the past were a little taken aback at first that they wouldn’t be performing “Thriller,” since it’s been a tradition.
“But once they got started and they saw the process and they saw how we are incorporating ‘Thriller,’ a lot of people really liked it. We’re hoping the public will also have that reaction. The dance itself, there are elements of ‘Thriller,’ and there are elements of the actual song. We’re just mixing it up,” she said.
Rehearsals are relaxed, she adds, and participants are encouraged to come when they can. Rehearsals are being held on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and on Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Cotton Rose School of Dance, 5 North Main Street, right across from the courthouse. During the week of the event, there will be practices each night. No registration is required to participate; just show up ready to dance.
Participants this year don’t have to dress as zombies, although costumes are required.
“They can be whatever they like, just keep it somewhat family-friendly,” she said, adding that participants are encouraged to make their costumes creepy and different.
“We’re just really excited this year about doing something new and unique, and having the community involved, and there being a surprise at the end of the night. We’ve never done this before. No one has seen any of the choreography. It’ll be a really great surprise for our Scare on the Square,” she said.
Scare on the Square will be held in downtown Statesboro Oct. 27, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. The Monster Mashup will begin around 8:30 on East Main Street, near City Hall. The dance will be performed twice, back to back.
For more information or to volunteer, call the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority at 912-764-7227.