Several years ago, I decided to participate in “Thrill the World.” This event used to be held in Oakland; it’s an annual event in which people around the world attempt to break the Guinness World Record for people simultaneously dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was an opportunity to celebrate MJ, the song, and Halloween. Though it initially appealed to me as a dancer through learning iconic choreography, my debut as a zombie meant more.
One aspect I find intriguing in portraying zombies as characters is the rage. I struggle to express anger and rage. Rage in and of itself is not positive. In my line of work, expressing rage is unacceptable and unproductive. Though my personality tends to be mild, I have had traumatic life experiences that have inspired rage. I have channeled that emotion into playing zombies. You might argue zombies don’t feel anything, they are simply hungry. In trying to understand what drives these characters, I think of situations that would or could make me react with brute force. I’m not an overly aggressive zombie. I rarely take swipes at my audiences. I roar, growl, and gnash my teeth. Rage is at a low simmer, even when I’m a zombie. Still it has been fun.
To create my zombie characters, I have taken personas I have previously played, almost all from Dance Party, and killed them. Inca Girl was a chola I played on TV twice.
I have gone back to the 80s as an undead prom queen, b-girl, and preppie.
I have been a runner.
Any look can work; after all, it’s the makeup that makes the zombie. Being around dancers with extensive makeup experience, I have gotten better in creating my zombie looks. I know have to step up the gore but I have improved.
Becoming a zombie has become an annual tradition along with celebrating Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. I’m all for traditions that involve self-expression and creativity.