Originally published Nov. 6, 12:13 a.m.
Weinberg juniors Demetri Elias and Chloe Woodhouse were selected Sunday night to be the emcees of Dance Marathon 2013. North by Northwestern sat down with them both to ask about the Danny Did Foundation, dancer enthusiasm and their favorite dance moves.
How did you find out you were going to be the emcees of Dance Marathon?
Chloe Woodhouse: It was crazy. [DM leaders] acted like they were calling us in for another interview. So they asked us a lot of questions, and at the end they asked if we wanted to be the emcees. Then they held up a big sign that said “congratulations,” and we just lost it.
Demetri Elias: Oh, we were so excited. We just threw off our hats and hugged and went crazy. It was really emotional.
Why did you want to apply in the first place? What makes you well-suited for the job?
DE: My freshman year I heard you could apply and really wanted to, but I thought I should wait until I participated. Then last year I was on the DR [dancer relations] team, which was just an amazing experience. We made crazy costumes and gave out capes to people who were tired, which was amazing. I’m just sort of a wacky guy and like getting excited — I like people and I like the idea of being able to pump people up and have fun. I’ve also always loved and been really involved in philanthropy, and DM is fun and philanthropy at the same time.
CW: Last year I was head of the Willard team, and I remember one person came up to me right at the half money deadline and was freaking out saying she didn’t think she could raise the money. So we helped her through it and got her to the event. And seeing her and the whole team at DM, and her reaction to the reveal of how much money Willard raised, was just an incredible experience.
How did you two meet, and when did you know you’d work well together?
DE: Last year at DM Chloe was sort of going crazy with questions and I helped her out. We realized we’re both pretty crazy and do crazy things…like last week we both jumped in the lake three times...for our application video. It was freezing, something like 20 degrees with the wind, but it was absolutely worth it. We loved it.
CW: We just balance each other out very well. Demetri is great at pumping people up and getting them on their feet, which I can do too, but I’m also good at logistical work. Especially after working on the application all these months, we realized how well we complement each other.
What’s going to make this year different, or better, than previous years?
CW: We’ve talked a lot about what we want to improve most this year, and we want the emcees to be a continued presence on campus every day up until the event. We’re going to make a big effort to show up at every single fundraising event to get more donations, and earlier. We’re also primarily going to be reaching out to people who already have dance marathon teams to generate enthusiasm there.
DE: Yeah, we want to reach out to every group on campus — cultural groups, Greek organizations, all of them — and get them involved early. It’s only November, but we want to get them pumped up now. Our video included cultural dance groups, Greek groups, religious groups, theater and engineering…we want to get them all into it before DM comes around. DM is an event that unifies the whole community, and we want to start that unification now.
Why is the Danny Did foundation an important cause to you? Are you excited to work with them?
DE: Last night we met with [Danny Did executive director] Tom Stanton, but besides that we haven’t had a lot of contact with Danny Did as of now. We’re both very connected to the organization and have a lot of passion for it. I mean, I’ve already raised $733 alone. I also have an aunt who died of epilepsy and an uncle who currently has it, so it’s a cause I’m very invested in.
CW: Last year I did a lot of volunteer work with epileptic patients at the University of Chicago. I was part of a group that took the results of resections, a type of surgery for patients who have epilepsy who don’t respond to medication. The experience absolutely gave me more of a connection to Danny Did and epilepsy research. I mean, I was in an operation room with someone who was having a seizure, and it was a really scary experience…it really gives you an idea of what children with epilepsy and their parents have to go through. I worked a lot in epilepsy detection, which is really important and life-saving…and that’s a lot of what Danny Did is doing.
Which dance move is your claim to fame?
DE: Only one? Oh, you can’t make me choose. I mean, in our video I do the Carlton…but the Sprinkler is also a favorite of mine.
CW: Don’t forget that Cabbage Patch, that’s another good one.
DE: …The Shopping Cart, the Light Bulb…the Egyptian is another good one.
CW: We pulled out the Hokey Pokey once…basically all the cheesiest ones.
What in your experience makes you well-suited for making a fool of yourself on the dance floor?
DE: I’m in the Northwestern spirit squad, which had gotten me really good at pumping people up. I was also DR last year, which means having to have a lot of energy all through all 30 hours. In spirit squad I’ve cheered at bowl games, and there a lot of people in that stadium, so I can handle big crowds.
CW: I’ve been involved in theater since I was 7, and I’ve performed in 35 musical productions and two circus productions since then. I also have a history of public speaking, and last year being a group head in Dance Marathon meant keeping a lot of people pumped up.
What was the most memorable moment of both the years you participated?
CW: Definitely my freshman year when they revealed the final total. I knew we had never broken a million dollars, and I never thought they would. Seeing the guy slip the tiles off to reveal a 7-digit number was incredible. I just broke down crying.
DE: Last year before every block, all the DR people stood on garbage cans and banged on the ceiling, forming a tunnel for all the dancers as they came in. I loved that.
Of the entire experience, is there a single part you’re most looking forward to?
DE: Just the whole crowd…seeing everyone in there with all that energy. I can’t wait.
CW: I’m looking forward to everyone watching me flounder at the 30 hour dance. That’s a dance where every three hours a new part is revealed, and at the end everyone dances the entire thing. It’s very cool to see all the dancers and everyone on stage doing the same dance together.
It’s hour 25. You’re voice is gone, you can barely stand, you feel exhausted and you’re getting sick. What’s the one song that gets you back on your feet?
DE: Oh God, anything by Lady Gaga. I’m obsessed with her…I’ve seen her in concert nine times.
CW: (Laughing) I didn’t know that!
DE: Yeah, and I’m seeing her again in February. And I met her once. That was incredible.