Daily file photo by Colin Boyle
Tech week for Northwestern University Dance Marathon has come to a close. Lights have been put up. Food has been prepared. Final fundraising deadlines have been met. And at 7 p.m. Friday, more than 1,000 dancers will begin their 30-hour marathon.
Veterans and new dancers alike will join NUDM’s 10 management committees in celebrating fundraising efforts for Communities in Schools of Chicago and the Evanston Community Foundation, this year’s beneficiaries.
SESP junior Talia Meidan, already a two-time dancer, said being in the tent is a moving experience, almost like a dream.
“It’s so empowering,” she said. “It’s cool to be able to show how hard you can work as an individual but also as a bunch of people working together, and to see what the results can be.”
Meidan added that she believes NUDM’s fundraising efforts are an important and necessary way for NU students to help those “in our backyard.” She said students don’t engage enough with Chicago, even though they live so close to the city. Last year, Meidan led the Delta Gamma-Zeta Beta Tau team, which was the top fundraising team of 2018 NUDM.
“It was the most exhausting and most rewarding experience of Northwestern that I have been a part of,” Meidan said.
This year’s NUDM executive co-chairs CJ Patel and Justin Savin said this year in particular, they are working to improve dancer accessibility so that more NU students can have a positive experience.
Both said they recognize the accessibility problems that exist within NUDM, and entered their leadership positions with ideas about how to improve this aspect of the organization.
“Dance Marathon either wasn’t public enough or intentional enough about a lot of the things that it did, particularly with respect with accessibility and the dancer experience, and inclusivity,” Savin said of past years.
One of the changes to improve accessibility, Savin and Patel said, was that they renamed the Dancer and Beneficiary Relations Committee to the Dancer Accessibility and Experience Committee. The committee spearheaded several important changes to the individual fundraising process this year, including one-on-one fundraising chats to help cater to each individual dancer’s fundraising needs.
“We really worked this year to try to make sure that our expected $400 fundraising goal isn’t a barrier to participation for anyone,” Patel said.
The organization also worked to improve medical and dietary accommodations this year, Patel said.
Medill first-year and first-time dancer Anneliese Slamowitz said she has an injury that prevents her from dancing the full 30 hours, but she is still able to participate this year. She said the organization was accommodating.
“The process was really easy,” Slamowitz said, who has been allowed nine hours of rest outside of the tent.
Both Patel and Savin said they hope future NUDM leaders can continue to work towards solving the many long-term issues that still exist within the organization, and hope they have left NUDM better than the way they found it. For now, though, they said they are focusing on making sure this year’s dancers have positive experiences inside the tent.
Their main advice for 2019 NUDM dancers? Leave everything at the entrance to the tent, Patel said.
“Really focus on thinking about the community you are joining and the beneficiaries you are supporting,” he said.
– The final countdown to the 30 hours in the tent
– Dance Marathon 2018