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Rose Eichenbaum

Wade Robson was at the height of his popularity and among the dance industry's most respected teachers and choreographers when I photographed him for the cover of Dance Magazine in 2007. At 25, he had already produced an extraordinary body of work that included commercials, music videos, world tours and stage direction for such pop stars as Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, Usher and Demi Lovato. He was also creator and host of his own MTV show, "The Wade Robson Project," and had won multiple industry awards, among them two Emmys for his choreography on "So You Think You Can Dance." What his admiring public didn't know was that Robson harbored a secret that in five short years would bring his professional life crashing down.

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Michael Jackson performing in 1992. Via Wikimedia

If you love Michael Jackson, you'll love this news: A pre-Broadway run of the MJ jukebox musical will hit Chicago this fall.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough boasts more than 25 MJ hits and has set its premiere for October 29. As previously reported, Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the new musical, while Lynn Nottage pens the book.

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Dance News

For dancing in heels, Quigley (right) prefers high boots.

Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.

You’d think a “Stiletto Heels” class would be excruciatingly painful. Surely spending an hour or more in a pair of sky-high heels, performing Beyoncé-esque choreography full-out can’t feel good. And yet, New York City–based instructor Shirlene Quigley says her classes are all about comfort.

Quigley, who has danced for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Missy Elliott and Chris Brown, wants her students at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance—mostly females 16 or older—to feel good physically and emotionally during her classes. That means not just finding shoes that will help them dance their best (Quigley recommends tight, thigh-high boots for ankle support and stability), but also creating a classroom environment where the dancers aren’t worried about performing overly sexual or suggestive choreography just because they’re dancing in high heels.

Quigley telling students they are “all created for greatness”

“We start class with a warm-up filled with core strength, leg exercises and stretching,” says Quigley. “Then we circle up for a quick chat to bring unity into the room and to create a safe environment for people to grow and take risks.” From there, she leads the students in across-the-floor drills, followed by a combination in her girly, feminine style. “At the end, everyone performs the routine in small groups while we cheer each other on,” she says. “My rule in class is to treat each other with kindness, love and respect at all times. Dancing in heels is scary, but it’s such a mental thing, like, ‘You want me to do what?!’ Women can give birth, but it’s scary to dance in a high heel. I want to help my students be less scared.” DT

What she wears to teach: “I always dress the part. If I’m going for a more hip-hop street stiletto vibe, I’ll wear leggings with a flannel shirt tied around my waist and a loose crop top. If I’m teaching a combo that’s more about precise lines and movements, I’ll go for something tight and black so the students can see my body.”

High heels of choice: For her preferred thigh-high boots, Quigley isn’t picky about brand or style as long as she can move in them. She says she likes to visit DSW or Payless and dance around in them to see what she likes best.

Her ideal day off: “I either want to spend an entire day taking classes, or the opposite: a day of watching movies in bed with my journal or being pampered, then heading to the park with a good book.”

What she never leaves home without: heels, water, body spray and lip gloss.

What she wants her students to watch: “I always suggest studying the greats—Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner—to learn from the true stars who paved the way for dance.”

Class photos courtesy of Quigley (2); boot and book: Thinkstock

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Dance News

MJ and his ghouls have been thrilling fans for three decades!

In 1983, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller” made its debut. The John Landis–directed music video features plenty of zombie gore and special effects—including M.J. morphing into a werewolf—as well as the iconic dino-armed undead dance break, co-choreographed by Jackson and Michael Peters. The anniversary makes this year’s Thrill the World (TTW) dance event particularly exciting, as groups of dancers from six continents prepare to perform “Thriller” at the same time.

The Halloween-themed event was first organized in Toronto in 2006 and has grown steadily since then, each year a new world-record attempt. TTW’s 2013 registration page lists participants in Australia, Austria, China, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Turkey, Venezuela, Wales and 33 U.S. states.

Thrill the World had a huge turnout in Austin, TX, in 2008.

“Zombie” groups register online to learn choreography and raise funds for a charity of their choice. The TTW website offers video links to learn the moves, plus written and recorded “dance scripts” that state the dance steps rhythmically, a gesture intended to assist nondancers and anyone who prefers to learn verbally. (“Down clap slide slide slide stomp and shoulders look left.”)

This year’s event will take place tomorrow, Saturday October 26, at 9 pm Greenwich Mean Time, 5 pm Eastern. Participants worldwide can tune in to TTW’s official online radio station to make sure they start perfectly in sync, down to the 5, 6, 7, 8. Visit thrilltheworld.com/world-wide-dance-locations to find a performance in your area.

Photos: fanpop.com; thrilltheworld.com

 

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