On THON weekend, dancers stand for 46 hours without sitting or sleeping to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer. Whether they are dancing for their organization or independently, the support of the crowd is essential in keeping them motivated, awake and fighting for a cure.
The biggest part of encouraging your dancer is to be interactive with them. One major way to make them feel supported is by dressing up. Tutus, glitter galore and face paint is what makes THON such a unifying experience. If they are dancing independently, a crowd full of dressed up guests shows they are just as excited to be there as they are; in addition, if they are dancing as a part of an organization then they can feel apart of the theme. “Wear things that remind them of their favorite thing. I feel like a theme just really helps the dancer,” says Rules and Regulations Member, Maura Jenkins.
Personal touches, “even if you’re just wearing their favorite color,” Jenkins says, are the only way to really interact with your dancer since it is against the rules to pass things from the stands to the floor. Senior Dana Altman, dancing for her sorority Sigma Kappa, says she likes to see her sorority’s letters or the FatHeads with the dancer’s pictures on them. Dancer Relations committee member Caroline Mottur even suggests, “make signs for them, personalize them and make them excited.”
Proximity to the dancers is also a major part of supporting them. Dancers can sometimes be joined by their friends or parents on the floor which helps them feel supported. However, in the hours where dancers are starting to feel increasingly worn down it can make a huge difference if they are close to the floor and able to talk and interact with their friends or organization in the stands. “Talking to them is really nice, to be able to do that and have them so close to us,” says one of Sigma Kappa’s THON chair Morgan Richards. However a downside of a section being close to the floor means that dancer’s can see when spectators are tired as well, “It is upsetting to see people with sad faces or look like they are tired because it’s good to have uplifting spirits on the floor,” says Altman.
With so many performers, music blasting and colorful lights flashing at all times it is hard to imagine that energy levels could ever sink, but according to dancer Rachel Runatz, “you can tell it is in the late night hours when no one is here.” Dancers aren’t supposed to know the time at all through the weekend to make it easier to stay awake for the 46 hours straight which means if they can tell it is in the middle of the night they are going to feel even less motivated to stand. “Be super hype and excited and keep on dancing. Even though you’re tired, they’re ten times more tired than you are,” says Mottur.
While spectators may wish they could be on the floor lifting up their dancer, there are still so many ways to be interactive with them from the stands. Even if you can’t be within reaching distance, stay energetic and motivated for them and For the Kids!