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Dancing in the Streets: SHAPE Joins the NYC Halloween Parade

 

While watching the New York City Halloween Parade on TV last year, I spied 20 or so adults performing the now-iconic dance routine from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. It was impressive—the corpse-like hoofers were all so in sync! I learned the troupe was with Broadway Bodies, a Manhattan studio that specializes in dance classes set to show tunes and pop videos. Last spring a few SHAPE staffers and I checked out a class, and absolutely loved it. So just as Ricky’s Costume Superstores began invading the city, I enlisted three of my co-workers—Amy Schlinger, Carly Cardellino, and Mallory Creveling—to accompany me to the season’s first NYC Parade Prep class.

The music chosen for this year’s event was a mashup of a mashup—Glee’s “Heads Will Roll”/”Thriller”—and Britney Spears’ “Till the End of the World.” The dress code: zombie teenager—the bloodier the better. Practices, we were told, would be held several times a week for three weeks; to participate in the parade, we’d need to attend at least five. 

The initial class was a bit intimidating, as many of the people were clearly regulars at the studio and had danced in the parade before. But it was also fun and aerobic; I left drenched in sweat and, thanks to the routine’s many head shrugs and shoulder rolls, feeling a little sore in my upper body.

Over the next few weeks, our super-talented, funny, and ever-patient instructor, Mitchell Wayne, taught us the moves in easy-to-digest segments and repeated them over and over again until they stuck. Those of us who needed some extra help could take advantage of the Broadway Bodies YouTube channel, where videos of the run-throughs were posted mere hours after each class.

VIDEO: See SHAPE's performance at the NYC Halloween parade.

We worried about not mastering the choreography in time, but Mitchell eased those fears by reminding us that we were, well…dead. If we forgot the steps, we could simply flail our heavy, lifeless limbs, and no parade-goer would be the wiser.

Late in the day on Halloween, the girls and I donned our tattered costumes and applied gobs of ghoulish makeup (Carly and I were putrid prom queens, while Mallory and Amy went the blood-soaked cheerleader route), then met up with the rest of the group at the parade entrance. After an hour of practicing and posing for pictures, we began dancing…and then never stopped until we reached the finish. I’d estimate that we did the entire 3 ½-minute piece 14 or 15 times from end to end, with no real breaks in between. We used any spare seconds to look our scariest as we limped, stumbled, and lunged at the crowds lining the streets. 

It was an exhausting yet exhilarating evening, and the four of us have already said we’re in for next year. In the meantime, I’ll be staying fit—and bringing out my inner performer—with a few of the other classes at Broadway Bodies. Come join me!

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