Williamston High School joins the Harlem Shake dance craze online

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By Stephen Brooks
Williamston Post staff writer

The Miami Heat. Jimmy Fallon. The anchors and crew on ESPN’s “Sportscenter.”

Williamston High School joined that eclectic company by jumping into the latest viral Internet craze — the Harlem Shake.

It’s not the traditional hip-hop dance many are accustomed to when they hear “Harlem Shake.” In fact, it’s not a specific dance at all.

The Harlem Shake videos that have set the Internet ablaze the past few weeks basically consist of a normal situation with one person dancing for a few seconds before the scene switches to an all-out dance party complete with costumes and any other horseplay the creators deem necessary. The videos tend to last roughly 30 seconds.

Williamston senior Evan Fox was approached by many of his peers to coordinate the filming of the Hornets’ video, and the next day he paid a visit to principal Jeffrey Thoenes.

“(Thoenes) was all for it,” Fox said. “… The students were ecstatic. They were so excited to be a part of this — that was the best part. Everyone was really excited for it.”

With Thoenes’ approval, the school announced the filming would take place that Friday during the 30-minute academic period after school designed for students to catch up on homework and tests.

“Long story short, kids respond to (Fox); they like him,” Thoenes said. “He has good leadership qualities, he’s got the right kind of ideas in his head. I knew that he wouldn’t come to me with an idea that didn’t have merit or wouldn’t be workable.”

The filming took three takes for the final product, with the intensity ramping up each time, Fox said.

Fox recruited another senior, Bobby Couturier, to open the video with the solo dancing scene. Couturier was chosen for the beginning because of his popularity among students from both Williamston and other local schools, Fox said, adding that he didn’t allow Couturier to wear a costume so people could recognize his red hair in the midst of the dancing.

“When he wanted me to be the main part I was like, ‘I’m down,’” Couturier said.

“… I think it’s sweet. Evan’s camera work was just awesome. It’s probably the best one out there, I would say.”

Bucking the trend of similar videos seen across the Internet, Fox shot Williamston’s Harlem Shake with two cameras to provide footage deeper into the madness that unfolded in the school’s main gym.

For Fox, the dual-camera setup made Williamston’s iteration unique, and provided a fun challenge for somebody with an interest in a career in video production.

A person in a Spiderman suit, students dressed as construction workers and athletes, one guy riding a bike and another holding a stoplight describe just a few of the characters seen in the video.

Not seen, however, are any staff members of Williamston High.

“I wanted staff members, but none of them seemed willing to participate,” Fox said. “They all kind of stood to the side and watched.”

Poor timing kept the fun-loving Thoenes from participating in the video, as he was out of the building ill the entire week it was shot. He had no prior knowledge of the Harlem Shake videos, but is known for dying his hair green for sporting events and participating in the school’s spirit days each year, he said.

“I might be over 50, but I’m kind of a teenager at heart for some things,” he said. Funny quote.

“So if I had been here, I might not have known to dress funny, but I probably would have been down in it doing something to be a part of it. That’s kind of my personality.”

Both Fox and Couturier have been pleased with the feedback so far, they said. Each said he has had multiple people from Williamston and surrounding communities approach them praising the video, in addition to recognition from local news and radio stations.

The video had more than 10,000 views in the first three weeks.

“It’s definitely up there, one of the best memories I’ve had (in high school),” Couturier said.

5 thoughts on “Williamston High School joins the Harlem Shake dance craze online

  1. This is fantastic! We should send this to other school districts in the area and get them involved in the competition.

  2. Good job on finding this story! I bet it wasn’t easy to come across with all the Harlem Shake videos out there, but I liked how you figured out whose idea it was and what the principal thought about it. Nice work 🙂

  3. I think this story is fun and interesting to read. I’m glad there is a video to go along with this story to let readers see what you’re writing about. I like how the principal was involved, too.

  4. I think this story has a lot of great components that a good story needs! the video makes it complete and the quotes are great too.