Dancing All Night Long

What do you get when you combine free food, live music, a night of dancing with friends, and a whole lot of passionate and generous college students?

Hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for charity, that’s what!

February seems to be the month for dance marathons. My own school, Columbia University, had theirs two weeks ago and raised over $76,000 for the fight against AIDs. The money goes towards providing medications that prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. The medication only costs $19 per child, so the Dance Marathon helped almost 4,000 people.

Penn State’s THON, starting today at 6pm and continuing for a whopping 46 hours (now that’s endurance!), is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, according to its website. Since its founding in 1973, the organization has raised more than $78 million—

yes, that’s 8 digits—to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Many other universities are in on the fun as well: University of North Carolina, Stanford, UConn, and Ohio State among others have recently held or are preparing for dance marathons.

So what does participating in one of these entail? It’s a bigger commitment than just one night. Dancers fundraise for months before the big night, and volunteer organizers are in charge of finding and setting up a space, hiring performers, providing food, and handling

sound and stage equipment.

The hard work totally pays off. At Columbia, dancers were rewarded with Nutella paninis, grilled cheeses and free massages that enabled them to keep dancing for 18 straight hours. But nothing compares to feeling that you’re making a difference. As Emily McConnell, a senior at Penn State and dancer in THON, wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post, “My fellow dancers and I will endure aching feet and exhaustion because we know our pain is nothing compared to the battles these kids face on a daily basis.”

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search