Block 1: Baby Got Back(pack)

Rishika Dugyala and Erica Snow

Sprinting down the steps of Norris University Center, dancers stormed into the tent for the first of 10 three-hour blocks in this year’s Dance Marathon.

The event kicked off with a burst of excitement as dancers listened to speeches from the DM executive co-chairs and representatives from the two beneficiaries: Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that provides weekend meals for food insecure elementary school students, and Evanston Community Foundation.

“Over the next 30 hours, don’t think about your homework, don’t think about your finals. Just dance,” executive co-chair Arielle Miller, a Medill senior, said to the dancers as they collectively groaned at the mention of work and cheered at the prospect of starting their 2016 DM experience.

Miller and co-chair Kevin Harris, a Weinberg senior, commended dancers for raising $400, the minimum amount of money to dance, and packing backpacks for children, among other activities throughout the year.

The emcees, SESP junior Sarah Thompson and Weinberg senior Brad McCandless, then took over and began a countdown from 20 seconds. Multicolored lights flashed as students began Snapchatting the event and jumping around, getting ready for the first song of the night: Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

McCormick freshman Yan Fang said she was excited for her first year doing DM as a part of the International Studies Residential College team.

“It’s for a good cause and everybody kept talking about DM, so I thought I would be a part of it too,” Fang said. “I’m expecting a lot of music and a lot of sweat.”

Greg Harris, Kevin Harris’ father, said it was his first time attending DM in person to support his son.

“I’ve watched the dancers on my computer screen for the past three years, dancing around with them in my office,” Harris said. “This year, instead of dancing in front of a computer, I figured I could just dance on the sidelines here.”

The first block’s celebrity speaker was Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who cheered dancers on from Facebook’s headquarters and ended the video dancing to “Shut Up and Dance.”

Communication sophomore Sofia Kuta, a member of the marketing and media committee, is serving as an online emcee where she will broadcast interviews with dancers during block changes. She said she was excited for the 30 hours because of the primary beneficiary’s focus on hunger.

“Hunger is something we can totally relate to,” she said. “We all know the impact it has on us mentally, and I think that makes us more empathetic towards these children who are going without eating for up to 65 hours, which I can’t even imagine.”

The block ended early as there was a 5-minute power outage, and no fundraising total was announced, DM spokesman James Keane said. Block 2 will resume as planned.

For the rest of our DM coverage, click here

Graph by Bobby Pillote/Daily Senior Staffer

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