“Our motto is ‘In Shape, Inspired, In Service to Humanity,’ and our other, internal motto is ‘Get over yourself and do something for the world,’” said Janet Reineck, the founder and executive director of World Dance for Humanity (WD4H). Well known for its flash-mobbing around town during the lead-up to Halloween, WD4H — a nonprofit since 2013 — is gearing up for its seventh year hosting Thriller, in which people of all ages and abilities join together in a dance performance of the Michael Jackson classic.
Prior to the performances, Reineck gives classes that “offer a chance for women to connect with each other and with the world, while helping people in need.” The proceeds of all the dance classes (both regular and Thriller-specific) are funneled directly into sustainable grassroots businesses in Rwanda, with the goal of empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty and rebuild their lives in the post-genocide country. WD4H currently provides aid to 8,400 people in 25 rural Rwandan cooperatives. Reineck added, however, that “we’re not trying to get bigger; we’re trying to get deeper.”
Providing folks past the age of socially acceptable trick-or-treating the opportunity to cover themselves in fake blood, Thriller is what Reineck calls a chance to “let go of yourself and your ego and just be a part of something.” During October, Reineck held rehearsals up to six times a week, teaching the whole dance — from start to finish — at every class, so anyone could join in at any time. During the first rehearsal of the month, the atmosphere was thick with concentration on the tricky dance moves, the room sporadically rippling with laughter at a forgotten step or slipup, and an overall expression of fun and anticipation on each face.
This year, WD4H will be zombie-ing up the S.B. Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens and multiple locations in Santa Ynez Valley and Carpinteria, and they invite fun-lovers, Halloween fanatics, and humanitarians alike to similarly join in, get over yourselves, and do something for the world.
WD4H will perform Thriller Saturday, October 28, 3 p.m., at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens, and Sunday, October 29, in Santa Ynez Valley (multiple times and locations). Call (805) 966-5439 or visit worlddanceforhumanity.org.