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Essay Contest Winner Teaches London Fletcher The Thriller Dance

Posted by Matt Terl on June 7, 2010 – 4:35 pm

When Redskins linebacker London Fletcher agreed to visit the school of the winner of the Hip, Happy, and Healthy Essay Contest — sponsored by the Washington Post and benefiting the Children’s Inn at NIH — he probably expected to answer a few questions, sign a few autographs, slap a few hands, say a few words. But eventual winner Isabelle Kramer had other ideas.

Kramer, a seventh-grader at Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, wrote her essay on the dangers of anorexia among her peers. And by peers, Kramer meant “the people she’s been dancing with for half her life.” Kramer has been a ballet dancer for eight years and is currently with the Washington School of Ballet, so when she found out that the she had won and that Fletcher would be visiting WES, she had one idea in mind:

“I thought it would be funny to put him in ballet shoes,” she told me.

Ultimately, that plan didn’t come to fruition, but Kramer had a backup plan. “The WES middle school girls,” she said, “we had a free day one day and decided to do Thriller together. We learned it from one of our teachers, and we decided that it would be good today so we could include more of the students.”

The WES middle school girls, she said, had learned the dance in “ten or twenty minutes, at most,” which seemed to set the bar pretty high for Fletcher.

He was given about two minutes of onstage practice, which led up to this performance:


On the whole, I thought he did pretty well, given the circumstances, but Fletcher declined to comment and resorted instead to the classic post-game football player speech: “I’ve gotta go back and watch the film,” he said. “Just like any performance in a game, you have to go back and watch the film, so I’ll watch and hold out judgment.”

But he had no such timid words for his dance instructor. “I think Isabelle did a great job,” he said. “Dancing is obviously her passion…. With her essay, I thought it was important that she pushed it out there.”

As for what his teammates think, Fletcher speculates at the start of the video that he’s going to catch a lot of flack, and he hadn’t changed his mind afterwards. “I’m sure I’ll get a lot of grief on this one,” he said.

But for Fletcher — a sports ambassador for the Children’s Inn at NIH — a bit of teasing is worth it to help out. “It’s a place where children can go and get basically last-minute type of treatment,” he explained. “Where their families can be there with them during the treatment they’re receiving at the National Institutes of Health, so it’s really a great facility for a lot of children, not only in the United States, but across the world.”

Definitely worth a few minutes of dancing.

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