This Surgical Technician has a Thing for 'Thriller'

Sheri Kinley gets ghoulish to the beat of a Halloween classic
Sheri Kinley heads Seattle Thrillers, a group that dances every October to MIchael Jackson’s iconic song

Sheri Kinley spends most of her time passing medical instruments to doctors in her day job as a surgical technician. Why, then, does the 62-year-old Lynnwood resident love to shimmy and shake and make like a zombie every October while teaching an eclectic assortment of wannabe performers the moves to Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller”?

“The endorphins just kick in while I dance,” says Kinley, who is the organizer and instructor for Seattle Thrillers, a group that dances to the iconic music in full zombie garb each year in Seattle—at the exact time “Thriller” groups around the world perform the same routine. Ines Markeljevic, from Toronto, Canada, choreographed the steps, which are based on the Michael Jackson dance.

She often puts that rhythm into motion at Lynnwood’s Verve Ballroom, where she likes to cha-cha, or at the Kirkland Dance Center, where she goes to swing dance.

But most of all, Kinley loves teaching “Thriller” steps to anyone who shows up at the two-hour dance lessons she offers each week for two months before the performance. “It’s a healthy environment and great for fitness,” she says. “People make friends from all walks of life.” Everything—the lessons and the event—is free, although Kinley asks participants to donate funds to a charity she selects. This year, it’s Sleepless in Seattle, a group dedicated to helping the homeless.

This is Kinley’s eighth year of running Seattle Thrillers, with no plans to quit anytime soon. “I’ll be 100 and still doing this,” she says.

1/Kinley and the Seattle Thrillers dancers once performed at a Seattle Symphony pops concert, where the symphony played a classical version of “Thriller.”

2/She realizes that not everyone is a natural dancer. She reminds participants that they are, after all, zombies. “They’ll look better if they’re a little stiff.”

3/Kinley hikes every weekend and often cycles on the Burke-Gilman Trail. “I’m 62, but in my head, I’m 30.”

4/This year’s “Thrill the World” performance is at 3 p.m., Saturday, October 29 at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square. Go to

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