Block 8: Athletes and Mathletes

Clare Proctor

While dancers fill the tent for one of the final blocks of the 2019 Northwestern University Dance Marathon, overhead lights changed colors in sync to the music. The big screens seamlessly cut to a celebrity video from Luca Padovan, who plays Paco on the cult-favorite Netflix show, “You.”

Behind the scenes, more than 60 members making up the Productions Committee coordinate lights, sound, sets and video to put together all the visual aspects during the 30 hours. This includes everything from the six-second celebrity video clips to the balloon drops to spearheading the “Sandstorm” tradition — where NUDM participants dance in a moshpit — which happened during Block 8.

SESP junior and Productions Committee co-chair Jordan Kim has been a part of the Productions Committee since she was a dancer her freshman year. She said she works on productions because “you get to be a part of actually making the magic happen.”

“We are damage control,” Kim said. “It’s pretty fun, just being able to know everything that’s going on and kind of be that person that can figure out a solution.”

Co-chair Meredith Mackey echoed this, saying the Productions Committee is the “fire extinguisher” of NUDM. The committee is responsible for a wide range of things, the SESP senior said, stretching from making a minute-by-minute schedule of the entire 10 hours to adjusting the temperature inside the tent. Mackey has also served on the Productions Committee since she was a freshman, and this is her second year as co-chair.

Weinberg first-year Katie Callaghan said she’s enjoyed the beaded lights in the tent, which change colors. She said the lights play an important role in setting the mood of the tent, and they “make a nice ambiance.”

“They fit time with the music very nicely,” Callaghan said. “Props to the tech people.”

Because of budget cuts for NUDM from the University, Mackey said the Productions Committee has had to adjust some aspects of how their lighting works, but she said these changes have improved the dancers’ experiences, making the tent “brighter and more focused.”

As dancers move into the final two blocks of the event, Mackey said the event has gone “incredibly smoothly” in terms of technology, though she made sure to knock on wood, just in case. Because of how well technology has been working, Mackey said she and Kim have had moments where they look at each other and say, “Well, let’s just dance.”

“It’s a lot of different levels of things, and it’s definitely a lot at stake,” Mackey said. “But it’s so worth it to be part of the team that gets to make this experience memorable for all of the people who are dedicating their weekend and their time and their energy to be here.”

Read more of The Daily’s coverage of Dance Marathon here.

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