Northwestern gears up for 44th Dance Marathon this weekend


Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang

Northwestern students pack the tent for Dance Marathon in 2017. This year, NUDM will benefit Cradles to Crayons, which provides supplies for low-income kids in the Chicago area.

Gabby Birenbaum, Reporter

On Friday, over 1,000 Northwestern students will pour into a tent on the East Lawn of Norris University Center to dance for 30 hours.

The 44th annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon will raise money for Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides supplies for low-income kids in the Chicago area. The Evanston Community Foundation is NUDM’s secondary beneficiary.

Though NUDM is an annual event, executive co-chair Daniel Nussbaum said the difference in beneficiaries from year to year impacts the event and tone of the fundraiser.

“We have a new beneficiary every year, (so) the whole atmosphere of the tent changes,” the Weinberg senior told The Daily.

Nussbaum also said there are many surprises planned that will take place throughout the 30 hours. The different cause and small changes it inspires will make NUDM 2018 a unique experience from prior dance marathons, he said.

Sofia Kuta, NUDM marketing and media co-chair, said NUDM aimed to mirror Cradles to Crayons’ mission in its broader message for the year.

“This year, we’re really trying to focus on the idea of people supporting each other and coming together to have them reach their full potential,” the Communication senior told The Daily. “Cradles to Crayons helps to do this with kids by providing them (with) everyday essentials. In doing that, they’re able to set kids up for success in helping them to focus and confidently pursue their dreams and ambitions.”

Nussbaum, Kuta and NUDM marketing and media co-chair Nicole Bankowski also offered both practical and deeper advice to first-year dancers. On the practical side, Nussbaum said all dancers should remember to bring deodorant, while Bankowski recommended dancers get adequate sleep in the days leading up to NUDM.

For dancers to fully appreciate NUDM, Nussbaum said, they should attempt to put aside their stress and embrace the 30 hours. Dancers will have the most moving and worthwhile experience this way, he said.

Bankowski, a Medill junior, said the most fulfilling part of her NUDM experience has been meeting and befriending strangers while dancing. She agreed that leaving stress behind is essential to having a meaningful 30 hours and make those connections.

“I always call this weekend my 30-hour vacation because I do try to truly leave everything at the door of the tent,” Bankowski said. “I would tell first-year dancers to definitely not expect it to always be easy, but know that it’ll be worth it.”

In the final week of preparations, the NUDM team has been particularly busy — none of the executive board members are getting much sleep, Nussbaum joked. The food committee is also organizing shipments as they come in, Nussbaum said.

Bankowski said the board is encouraging last-minute fundraising while the production committee is setting up the tent. Though it’s a busy time, Bankowski said organizers are getting increasingly excited for Friday, and she hopes dancers share that anticipation.

Ultimately, dancers will take part in a greater cause and allow Cradles to Crayons to continue to grow and provide service to the Chicago area, Nussbaum said.

“(Dancers) are not just joining the tent for the 30 hours, but they’re really joining a 44-year Northwestern tradition, and they’re joining thousands of Northwestern students before them who have danced and the thousands more after them,” Nussbaum said. “That’s really exciting to think about.”

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