Lying on the floor at Norris Center after 18 hours of Dance Marathon, Abigail Schroeter and Meredith Mackey, the co-chairs of the Dance Marathon productions committee, talked to NBN about the logistics and excitements of their job.
NBN: What have you learned from working for DM’s productions team?
Mackey: This is my third year on productions, and I guess the biggest thing that productions has taught me is that, aside from all technical skills and logistical framework of how to run a large-scale event, is just the power of how a group of people who want to do a thing more than anything and will put in all of the time, energy and effort that is necessary. It doesn’t matter if it’s sprinting around the tent during a block change or staying up until 2:30 a.m. during tech week – productions will do whatever it takes to get the job done, and it’s the most inspiring mentality and attitude to be surrounded by constantly.
NBN: What is your favorite part of doing this job?
Schroeter: The people are really incredible, and everyone brings such different skills to the table. I’m literally a chemist, and somehow in charge of running this giant event. So all of us have so many different skills, and manage to put them all together into a really incredible event.
Mackey: Even though our main aspects of our committee focus on technical production, both from a film and theater side, we have members from all four years and all six schools.
NBN: I heard you met every day last week. How does preparation work?
Schroeter: The tent actually goes up two weeks before, and then the Sunday before DM, we start building things into the tent and work the whole week to set all the lights, sounds, stage, cameras, visitors sections. … Everything that is in the tent and is not the physical structure – with the exception of the stage and the tech table itself – is literally pulled out by us.
Mackey: Our normal schedule this week is that we worked from 10 a.m. to midnight every day. And we told our committee that obviously we’re all students and academics come first, but when you’re not asleep, and you’re not in class, you should be in the tent helping out.
NBN: What are the logistics of “Sandstorm,” one of DM’s traditions and most expected moments?
Schroeter: It’s a tradition that has been around longer than us. We play the song "Sandstorm," which lasts eight minutes, and then our lightning designers queue a piece to it, so it has a set of lights that go with the song and it changes every year. And everyone forms a sort of giant mosh pit, because the returners know about it, so they start going at it and then all of the new people. It’s basically a giant, jumping mass of people. It’s wild.
Mackey: And it’s right around the 24-hour mark of DM, so it’s really the thing that pumps the dancers enough to get through the last hours.