5 Questions with DM 2014 Dancer Relations co-chairs Johanna McCarthy and Ander Aretakis

    Halfway through Block 6, we checked in with Dance Marathon 2014 Dancer Relations co-chairs Johanna McCarthy and Ander Aretakis to ask them about coordinating the largest DM committee, creating emergency contingency plans and working with "hero families" (families with kids with Duchenne who get connected to different dancing teams), among other things. We also asked them to bust a move and GIF-ed the results.

    What tips do you guys give your committee about keeping dancers awake and motivated?

    Johanna McCarthy: "Remind them why we're here, stay positive."

    Ander Aretakis: One thing is that they are the people who need to get everyone moving, so they need to be excited. One of the biggest things is not to be too annoying, you don't want to get all up in someone's face and be screaming at them. Be a little bit more excited than them, but engage them and slowly build them up.

    Not long ago we were in lockdown, kind of infamous for dancers' energy being lowest. What are some of the obstacles for keeping them motivated during lockdown?

    Johanna: Actually lockdown went well. It was pretty fun, people got into some crazy costumes and we had some great music going. It was actually a pretty fun time.

    Ander: This year the dancers got really into it, DR was really into it and kept everyone going. We didn't really see anyone really drop too much.

    How do you prepare such a large committee for DM?

    Ander: A week before we have boot camp, where we run them through all their jobs for the weekend, things that could come up, what we're expecting of them and then give them a little bit of a pump-up for it.

    Johanna: We have weekly meetings all year. It's not a requirement, but a lot of people on our committee have done DM before, so they know what to expect.

    You guys also deal with the hero families. Can you tell me about some of the hero families here?

    Johanna: Obviously the Penrods, Joseph's family. Then we also have a lot of other hero families. A couple others speaking at DM are the Kapsalis family, who have a five-year-old son with Duchenne whose name is Caleb. They live just a little bit away and they're awesome. They're so high-energy and have been so supportive of DM all year. Caleb really likes trains a lot and is a great kid. Another hero family we have speaking has a son with Duchenne and two daughters. All the hero families have been awesome about coming to our events all year and we're excited for them to see DM.

    Ander: The Quizhpis are great, they've been at all our events throughout the year. They have two sons with Duchenne. We've got a ton of families this year.

    What's the emergency contingency plan if there's really severe weather?

    Ander: We actually can't release that.

    Johanna: There are a few different versions of it. Ander especially worked really hard to create a plan that encompasses everything that could happen in terms of electricity and weather. Him along with UPD worked to create a plan that's safest for the dancers that works in every situation.


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