Dancing without sleep or rest for 46 hours is physically, emotionally and mentally taxing for anyone who tries, but it is done with such great purpose that it is all worth it in the end.
Regardless, those who dance at Penn State’s THON need all of the help they can get—that’s where being a Dancer Relations committee member comes in to play.
You’ve all gone through the months of training and preparation for one weekend where it all counts. At this point, you’ve probably gotten a chance to meet your dancer and gotten to know them a little better, so the next step is to figure out what they are going to need throughout THON weekend.
The most important thing to remember is that while you’ve been training to take care of a dancer, now it’s time to start training for your dancer. No two dancers are the same which is crucial to remember going into this; each individual is going to have their own highs and lows and their own strengths and weaknesses.
That being said, let’s start thinking of what you’ll need to have for your dancer throughout the span of 46 hours.
Inspiration, support, autonomy: the three things that every single dancer is going to need this weekend. Inspiration is always crucial because you are reminding your dancer why they are doing what they are doing so that it pushes them right until the end. Support is imperative at all times but it’s important to gauge what kind of support is necessary under the circumstances; stretching, distractions, food and water, athletic training, foot rubs, piggy-back rides—you know what’s best for a dancer, but they know what is best for them so make sure it’s a two-way street when deciding.
With that in mind, ensuring your dancer’s autonomy is the most important thing to remember during THON weekend. If a dancer needs space, be at an arm’s length in case something starts going downhill, but make sure you give them that space. If a dancer needs you to be attached at the hip, bring your sewing kit and hem your waistbands together (that is a light-hearted joke, but do make sure you are extremely attentive and engaged with your dancer if they really need you).
Some things to keep on you at all times might be a snack, tennis ball and water. It’s important to keep your dancer engaged and involved in all activities throughout the weekend such as theme hours, puzzles and playing with the kids, but do not feel the need to go overboard and buy $50 worth of items. There will be many activities throughout the weekend. Definitely add bubbles, a water gun and maybe a pack of cards to your list, but the rest is up to you, taking into account that they will be receiving packages during the weekend as well.
You have trained for this challenge and chances are your dancer has done a thing or two to prepare themselves, so take everything as it comes and remember why you’re all doing what you’re doing; For The Kids™.