Name/Title: Heads Will Roll / Thriller Halloween Dance

Purpose of Event: To offer a dance that provides children opportunities to choreograph movements to match the theme of the song.

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: Music: Artist: Glee Volume 5 Song: Thriller/Heads Will Roll

Recommended music: Artist: Glee Volume 5 Song: Thriller/Heads Will Roll - Available on Itunes

Beginning dance formation: Scatter or line

Dance source: Parts of this dance use Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Dance Moves

Description of Idea

Start when the song says "Off with your head"

Section One:
1-8 cts: Take left arm, circle it around your head (over face and back of head) 2 cts and then put arm out to left side straight with head tilted to left-2 cts. Hold four cts
1-4 cts: Pivot on right foot to move 4 cts to right (1/2 turn facing back)
5-8 cts: “Dance till you're dead” hold a “dead pose” for 4 cts REPEAT

Section Two: Start this section when the song says "Off with your head" for the third time
1-4 cts: 2 gallops forward, right then left, with arms out to sides shaking the hands low - "spirit fingers"
5-8 cts: In a wide stance, hands on knees, step back, right, left, right, left (4 of these steps back)
9-16 cts REPEAT cts 1-8
17-20 cts: Lead with right –step touch on a diagonal with the right leading, then left leading. rt hand “deal the cards”, and left hand “deal the cards” (hand shakes low as if dealing cards)
21-24 cts: Step back with left foot facing the side wall, perform two step touches as “breast stroke swim arms” 2 X’s
25-32 cts: REPEAT (cts 17-20)

Section Three: 1-8 cts: “You tried to scream.” Long slide step L and while the R comes together “shimmy” shoulders put arms by side on ct 4 (4 cts.) then clap overhead on ct. 5, arms down to side ct 6, clap overhead 7, then down ct 8.
9-16 cts: REPEAT to right side,
17-32 cts. Repeat two more times

Section Four: Chorus: Thriller
1-8 cts: Michael Jackson Thriller walk ~ Monster Claws…with hands in monster claws- walk to left 3 ct’s and hold on 4, turn claws to right (ct 5), to left (ct 6), to right for cts 7-8
9-16 cts: REPEAT other direction
17-32 cts REPEAT two more times

Repeat Section One-"Off with your head"

Repeat Section Two Shimmy forward, monster mash back, deal forward, swim back

Repeat Section Three MJ shimmy with claps

Repeat Section Four-Chorus Monster Claw walk

Repeat Section One: "Off with your head"
1-16 cts: “Darkness falls” Drop down to floor on ct 1. Take the next 16 cts to move body to a stand.
17-32 cts: Zombies walk
8 cts music has a fast beat section. Students can perform a quick jog with arms moving from sides of body to overhead. Children love to scream so allow them to add extra effects with their screams.

Repeat Section Four: Thriller

Repeat Section One: "Off with your head" to finish the dance.

Video (opens new window to YouTube)


Students have the opportunity to choreograph 32 counts in the middle of the dance, offering many opportunities for variations.

Assessment Ideas:

In the middle of this dance there is a section students can be asked to create 16 cts using non-locomotor moves, levels, and tempo changes as they become zombies. Students can be asked to create symmetrical or asymmetrical shapes with their bodies. They can move every two counts as they progress from the floor to a stand. They will create a total of 8 different shapes. They can also create their own zombie walk and perform it for 16 cts.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

For children with mobility difficulties: This dance can be performed sitting in a chair using claps or shaking bells. Stomps or slapping on the thighs are additional movements that can be added to the dance steps. Bright scarves would also add to the movements. To meet the developmental level of K-2, facing different walls could be difficult. Adapt the steps so they stay facing forward for section one & stomp in place after arm movement. Slow the tempo down and repeat each section twice instead of four times.

Submitted by Susan Flynn who teaches at College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. Additional authors for this idea were Paola Fontana. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 10/15/2020.
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