Dance Marathon and Ashoka work around schedule overlap
Two of Washington University’s most popular traditions—Dance Marathon and Diwali—will fall on the same weekend of Nov. 6-8 this year in an overlap that has not happened since 2004.
Both groups have been working together since the spring to make the weekend run as smoothly as possible.
Dance Marathon, an annual 12-hour dance-a-thon, raises thousands of dollars every year for St. Louis area hospitals. Diwali, the five-day Indian holiday also known as the Festival of Lights, is the subject of a yearly performance put on by Ashoka, the South Asian student organization.
Ashoka puts on Diwali’s three installments in the same weekend—all of which have sold out in the past few years.
In 2004, Dance Marathon was moved from the spring to the fall in an effort to encourage freshman floors to participate together and enjoy a greater bonding experience earlier in the year.
Neither group has much control over determining the date of its event. Edison Theatre establishes the dates for Diwali, while the Athletic Complex chooses them for Dance Marathon.
As soon as this year’s event dates were announced last spring, the two groups joined forces to better prepare for the fall’s hectic weekend.
“I really had no concern. It was just a matter of ensuring there was open communication [between the groups],” said junior Manjaap Sidhu, co-president of Ashoka.
Representatives from Dance Marathon echoed Sidhu’s confidence.
“The two groups are really working together, and we’re trying to maximize our outreach and the relationship between the two groups as well,” said senior Andrew Seidl, executive director of Dance Marathon.
The groups’ executives will meet on Oct. 2 to iron out the details of their plans.
“We’re trying to make sure that anyone who’s interested in both events can do both events,” Seidl said.
Ideas for alleviating the overlap of events include giving residential advisors tickets specifically for the Friday and Saturday morning Diwali shows to ensure that as many freshmen as possible can attend both events.
Traditionally, Diwali’s Saturday night show is the one with the greatest number of parents in attendance, which means the impact on attendance due to Dance Marathon would not be too drastic.
Last year, 800 registered dancers attended Dance Marathon and a couple hundred more showed up.
In addition, Dance Marathon has moved its time to 3 p.m. to leave room for the 12 p.m. Diwali show.
In the past, Dance Marathon has taken place the weekend before Diwali, meaning that dancers who participate in Diwali often cannot attend the Dance Marathon due to dry runs and dress rehearsals.
Because the two events overlap on the same day this year, Diwali participants will have some time in between the Saturday shows. Ashoka has encouraged the dancers to drop by Dance Marathon during their breaks.
The only worry for the Dance Marathon executive board, however, is the number of people who hold off on registration for the fundraiser because they wish to participate in Diwali.
“I think that with joint PR, we can counter that effect,” Seidl said. “There obviously will be a lot of people who want to try out.”
Still, each year there are more students who do fundraising for Dance Marathon but do not show up, as well as students who do not register but come to the dance-a-thon.
Ashoka is also offering discounted tickets to the Dance Marathon executive board, though the board will be unable to attend due to planning.
The Dance Marathon board is also considering an early check-in for Dance Marathon dancers Saturday morning show so that they can leave immediately following the Saturday morning show.
Though some people will have to choose between participating in one event or the other, both still remain worthwhile opportunities, students say.
“They’re events that are held for really good causes, and Diwali in particular, because it’s a cultural event,” senior Brandy Randall said. “It’s a good chance for people to get exposed to a culture that they may or may not have had exposure to previously, and also exposes them to our cultural arts department.”
Randall, who is an RA for a freshman floor, is similarly positive about Dance Marathon.
“Dance Marathon is something that is an activity that a lot of students on campus are passionate about, and that passion usually starts their freshman year when they are first exposed to what the program is,” she said.
Despite the work of both groups to coordinate their schedules, some students still believe the competition may have negative impacts on the programs.
Dance Marathon and Diwali organizers, however, say they think the two events will maintain their positions as prominent traditions at the University, even with the scheduling overlap.
“This is something we all participate [in] and are a part of that makes Wash. U. unique and you’re not going to find [that] anywhere else,” Sidhu said.