Medill senior looks forward to her fourth year of Northwestern Dance Marathon

Update: Block Ten, the Final Block

As Ranjani headed to dance her last three hours for DM, she said she feels a little emotional.

“This whole experience has been life-changing,” Ranjani said. “I can’t believe it is ending so soon.”

Ranjani said during the previous blocks it was difficult because the dancers’ meals were not served on time. She said it was hard to fill that time with dancing.

In the ninth block, members from the B+ Foundation gave speeches, and Ranjani said its poignance contributed to her emotional state. She said she thinks this last block will contain just as much emotion as the ninth.

Ranjani said she is excited to see “everyone come together” in block ten. She also said she looks forward to the reveal of the total amount of money raised.

As the dancers charged into the tent for their final three hours, Ranjani exuded the same persistent energy she kept up throughout the entire 27 hours thus far.

“This all has been great,” she said.

Update: Block Six

Just a little more than halfway through the 30 hours, Ranjani said she feels great.

Although she described herself as “a little incoherent” after dancing all night, she said she was excited for an upcoming interview with all of this year’s 120 Hour Club members.

“Sorry I can’t talk so well right now,” she said.

She said that in the hour before, the DM Committee served breakfast to the participants, and they got to sit down for 15 minutes. Ranjani said the 15 minutes were “amazing.”

“I’m still going,” she said.

Update: Block One

After nearly three hours of dancing, Ranjani said, “I am doing great, and I’m still really energetic.”

She said the key is to not look at the clock and think only about having a good time.

One thing that helped keep her going, she said, was the fact that the B+ Foundation paired a “B+ hero,” or a child battling cancer, with each team.

“It’s only been an hour, and I’ve already gotten to meet the Zeta B+ hero, ” Ranjani said. “It was amazing just to be dancing with our hero and giving him a good time.”

Meet Ranjani Chakraborty

This weekend, Medill senior Ranjani Chakraborty will join Northwestern’s Dance Marathon’s 120 Hour Club, the small group of dancers who have participated in DM for four years.

Chakraborty estimated she is one of about 30 dancers in the club. She said she is sad that this year’s round is her last.

“I can’t use words to describe it,” Chakraborty said. “The energy around you is insane.”

Chakraborty said she first got involved with DM her freshman year when her whole Elder Residence Hall floor decided to participate. She said although she did not know what she was getting into by dancing for 30 hours, she absolutely fell in love with the process, and she decided to participate each year after that.

“She’s a very strong-headed person when she puts her mind to it,” said Meera Chakraborty, her mother. “The standard quo is not her way to go. She always does something different. She likes helping charity as well as doing something she likes, which is dance, and that’s why she’s done it for four years.”

Ranjani said she loves participating with her close group of friends, and she appreciates the support from her friends who do not participate. This year, she requested Red Mango from her friend Michael Cousin, a McCormick senior and a 2010 DM participant.

“I don’t understand how anyone could have that much energy,” Cousin said. “I think she will be having a blast the whole time.”

One of her favorite parts of the DM experience is getting to meet the people for whom DM raises money, Ranjani said. She described listening to the “heart-wrenching” speeches of children fighting diseases as a powerful motivating factor.

“You realize everything you have done is worth it,” Ranjani said.

Although Ranjani cannot choose one specific memorable DM moment, she said she really appreciates bonding with more than 1000 other students she does not know very well because in the end they become one team. She said she thinks that although NU is a very philanthropic-oriented school, the many different philanthropies from the Greek system or other programs can fragment the team effort.

“DM is one philanthropy that gets the university together in one cause,” Ranjani said.

To raise the $400 necessary to participate, Ranjani said she goes canning. She said she is grateful for her large family, which she emails every year for donations. This year, her older brother, Rupak, donated the most out of her family.

“She’s really dedicated to it, and really consistent, and I think it’s a great cause,” Rupak said.

Ranjani said she hopes this final year’s total will exceed last year’s. She said last year, DM broke its record and raised more than $1 million for the Children’s Heart Foundation. This year, DM is sponsoring the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, which funds medical research on childhood cancer.

Besides her dedication to DM, Ranjani has served as the Zeta Tau Alpha president and has received two Lund Grants for her independent journalism projects. Currently, she is working on the Medill Innocence Project, for which some assignments are due shortly after DM ends.

“I might be sending emails to my team from the tent,” Ranjani said.

Amanda Gilbert contributed

[email protected]