Filming of 'Thriller' dance involves 120 at McLaren Fitness

It’s not every day that Judi Swartz leads a dance routine from the bed of a pickup truck in a parking lot.

On Saturday, however, she did.

Swartz taught and refreshed about 120 people on a simple choreographic dance routine to the famous Michael Jackson song “Thriller.” The dance was also filmed numerous times outside of McLaren Fitness, 2600 Three Leaves Drive, by the Central Michigan broadcast and cinematic arts department.

“I drove 45 minutes to do this because I’m crazy,” Jeanne Giroux of Stanwood said. “My husband said I’m crazy, too, but he let me do it. It’s sort of what I expected it to be; there were people of all ages.”

The first shot of the song was of all participants laying on the cold pavement as a cool wind swept across them. Smoke machines  pumped smoke across the dancers, some wearing zombie makeup. As the song progressed, the dancers slowly rose up and stood in formation in time for the lyrics and beat.

“It was a lot of fun,” Candice Harkrader, a Mount Pleasant resident said. “I thought it was going to be cold but it turned out to be perfect. Judi chose to keep (the dance) simple to get kids into it.”

Swartz danced in the bed of the truck to maintain the participants’ timing with the music.

“You’re doing great,” she told the crowd with the microphone headset, while she danced. “A hundred-twenty of you working together – we should all be politicians.”

Participants were filmed about six times, including three times from the roof of McLaren Fitness, and three times at ground-level. The footage will be cut, edited and posted to YouTube by Eric Limarenko, manager of video facilities in the CMU broadcast and cinematic arts department.

“It was great,” Swartz said at the end of the filming. “We changed it up a little bit and it worked.”

Swartz said it was the third movie she worked with. Last year she took part in a flash mob movie through downtown Mount Pleasant along with a similar one beforehand. Both times, she said, it was cold and rainy. On Saturday, the weather was sunny despite temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s.

“This was the best weather we’ve had,” Swartz said. “It was cold, but I’ll take it.”


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