Halloween Dance Fest via Zoom slated Oct. 24
After seven months of battling COVID-19 and dealing with the unrelenting fallout affecting the economy and the rhythm of daily life, everyone around the world could use some good news.
Halloween has not been canceled!
The “THRILLS & CHILLS” Halloween Dance Fest is the first of its kind, global celebration sponsored by World Dance for Humanity, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Santa Barbara. The Zoom-based festivities begin with a “Thriller” dance event at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 (PT), followed by a Halloween Costume Dance Party at 3 p.m. Oct. 31. Participants can also be part of a video montage of international dancers by submitting their home video of WD4H dances by Oct. 25.
“This year marks the 10th anniversary World Dance for Humanity is hosting the THRILLS & CHILLS Halloween event,” according to Janet Reineck, executive director. “It’s a much-loved community tradition that normally attracts hundreds of dancers who perform around town, culminating with the grand finale performance of ‘Thriller’ in the Sunken Garden at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.
“While the pandemic and current county public health regulations don’t permit large local in-person social gatherings, curtailing our usual ‘flash mobs’ and main performance, we found a virtual workaround. It actually works to our benefit, offering us a way to reach thousands of new ‘spook-tacular’ online fans around the world. This enables WD4H to share our mission which is changing lives… one step at a time.”
She notes that to make the event inclusive and welcoming to all, this year a team of World Dance volunteers is working with Santa Barbara’s Parks and Recreation Adapted Programs, reaching out to adults with special needs and inviting them to participate in the Halloween fun.
WD4H offers free daily Zoom dance classes at 10 a.m. This month, dancers can learn dance steps to Halloween classics: “Ghostbusters,” “Monster Mash,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” In addition, instructors will hold “Thriller” dance workshops at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Oct. 21 and at 10 a.m. Saturday and Oct. 24.
Normally WD4H asks for a $40 donation for participation in the annual “THRILLS & CHILLS” celebration. Because of COVID, they are waiving the fee this year to provide a needed diversion during these challenging times. However, donations for the workshops and classes are always appreciated. Proceeds will go to the WD4H Rwanda Education Fund, which will give 320 Rwandan students a chance to go to school in 2021.
WD4H uses dance to bring like-minded people together and motivate them to move and express themselves in a supportive environment. Dance themes and music used in classes focus on current events in the news and give students a way to process their thoughts and feelings.
“Through music, message and movement, our daily Zoom classes help participants cope with what is going on in our country — racial injustice and police brutality, California wildfires, the plight of undocumented workers, hurricanes in the Gulf states, the ongoing COVID challenge, the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even post-debate blues and the upcoming elections,” said Ms. Reineck.
The programs are offered free of charge with an option for participants to make a donation of any amount. The funds raised have been used to help people in need, here at home, and halfway around the world.
Locally, WD4H supported the Santa Barbara Food Bank and 805UndocuFund, which serves undocumented workers and their families. In Rwanda, where WD4H is helping 12,000 people in 28 rural communities, donations were used to bring emergency food relief to people facing hunger in the wake of COVID shutdowns and failed crops. WD4H was the first international charity to respond to this crisis. Since April, WD4H has provided food for 5,866 Rwandans threatened with starvation.
“Participants feel good about what they’re doing for themselves — and others — by being part of the World Dance community. They know they can depend on this morning cup of community and inspiration, served up with passion and joy,” said Ms. Reineck.
“It’s a wake-up call to gratitude, a chance to experience our shared humanity during these difficult times while having a wonderful time. We are looking forward to dancing together, yet safely apart, at this year’s Halloween ‘THRILLS & CHILLS,’ making new friends from far away locations. We’ll use the art of collective dance to make the world a healthier, better place.”