Good Cause: Thrill the World Kigali

Amanda Emsland is a dancer from Canada who’s working on bringing Thrill the World to Kigali. Read all about it below and make sure to check them out on their Facebook page or get in touch with Amanda directly at or 0789 393 521 if you’d like to be involved.

What is Thrill The World Kigali?

Thrill The World is a worldwide dance event in which groups of zombies dance Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” choreography to raise money for charity, promote dance, spread love and joy to the community and honor the humanitarian and artistic efforts of Michael Jackson. Plus it’s also an attempt to break the world record for largest simultaneous dance!

It began in 2006 in Toronto, Canada and has now spread to 6 continents including Africa for the very first time this year. Each group has the option to raise money for a charity of their choice and I have chosen a local children’s traditional dance group called Inkondo Z’incamihigo which means “Small, but strong.”

Tell us about yourself and how you came to host the event in Rwanda?

My name is Amanda Emsland and I am from Canada. I joined Thrill The World Santa Barbara in 2012 while living in California and through that event met a dance group called “World Dance for Humanity.” It was with this dance group that I came to Rwanda in June to meet the beneficiaries of our class fees and fundraising efforts.

After participating in Thrill The World Santa Barbara I committed to hosting the event every year, wherever I happen to be living, so this year it is Kigali. My intention is to have it continue on after my departure and I have made some great connections that will help make that possible but can always use a helping hand if anyone is interested. It is my goals to spread this event to as many different communities as I can because of the impact it has had on my own life I believe it has the potential to make real change.

Can you tell us more about Inkodo Z’incamihigo?

Inkondo Z’incamihigo was started by Gilbert Rutaremara, a young man I met through a connection from my experience in Santa Barbara. Gilbert is an orphan from the Genocide and has supported himself through his gift and talent for dance. He has been a member of the National Ballet for many years. He has a deep passion for dance and sees it as an important skill that has helped him survive. He feels that he can offer the same opportunity to the children in Kigali by sharing his gift with them and he now teaches traditional dance to a group of 25 local boys and girls in Kacyiru. The group practices 2 or 3 times a week wherever they can and they perform at hotels, weddings and anywhere else they can.

What will money this raises support?

All the money raised will go to the group to help them with whatever they need to keep them dancing. Some of the members have no parents, no home and no support while others have families, schooling and support systems. The money will be given to Gilbert for him to manage according to the needs of the group.

I witnessed this process last week when I gave them Rwf 5,000 from the money already raised. They talked amongst themselves and came to an agreement as to who needed it the most in that moment and it was given out accordingly. My intention is not to impose any ideals onto the group. I feel that managing of the funds is also an important tool for learning. That being said, if we raise a large sum I will offer my knowledge of basic finances like how to open a bank account or find someone for Gilbert to be in communication with regarding money management. I have to think big!!

Why is this event important for Rwanda?

This event connects Rwanda to the entire world through the spirit of dance, love and joy, which I believe to be incredibly important to healing. It also brings awareness to the potential beyond the borders of Africa or even of the sector that they live in. They are part of a world wide event and are working with an international organization, which is an opportunity that a lot of children here may not experience or believe that they can be a part of.  This is the first year that Africa is involved in this event and I feel very honored to be able to introduce such a wonderful tool to this continent and this country.

Watching the faces of the children I dance with light up at even just the mention of Michael Jackson demonstrates to me that this work is having an impact in a positive way. The simple act of sharing a moment of joy and happiness can leave lasting imprints in our hearts and minds and if that is all that it does then it is enough.

What is the message you want to send by hosting this event?

I am a huge fan of Michael Jackson and fully believe in his message of love and giving back to others. I believe in following our hearts and using our natural talents to make change in the world. I would love for the kids involved to witness what they are capable of achieving when they commit to helping themselves which will build on their self-worth and self-esteem.

What do we need to know about the event?

The event will be held at Papyrus on October 26th at 11pm but the fun starts before then and continues into the night! The kids will arrive early and be treated to a meal (compliments of Papyrus) and will be dancing and having fun listening to MJ in preparation for the show. Plus Papyrus will donate 50% of the nightclub’s cover fees for the night, so even if you can’t make the show you can support us just by going for a night out!

How can people participate?

There are many ways to be a part of this event including being a dancer, a volunteer, a spectator, or a donor. If you want to be a dancer, the first step is to learn the dance! There are practice sessions from now until the event:

We ask for a donation per class or you can pay a one-time fee of Rwf 5,000 which registers you for the event and allows you to attend any practice you like between now and the big performance on October 26th.

If you’d like to volunteer to help with the event (everything from social media help to face painting to helping put up posters and more), please get in touch with me at Likewise if you’d like to make a contribution.

What can we do to help you make this a success?

Lots of things!

  • Offer to volunteer your time and skills.
  • Send a copy of this interview to your friends and family back home and ask that they support this cause.
  • Donate by visiting or though my blog
  • Like “Thrill The World Kigali” on Facebook and share it with friends and family.
  • Word of mouth is a very powerful tool so tell everyone and anyone about the event and create a BUZZ!
  • Come out and support these kids on October 26th at Papyrus as they take a giant step towards change in their lives!
  • Come Dance with us! Even if just for a practice session, it all makes a difference!

About Amanda Emsland

Following my heart on an amazing adventure of healing, learning, giving back and trusting that my life is exactly what I make of it and knowing that I have a choice in every moment, with every breath to be exactly who I am meant to be.