It takes a certain type of person to sign up to dance for 30 hours straight. It takes a very specific (*cough* insane *cough*) type of person to sign up to dance for 30 hours straight….on center stage. This year’s NUDM Emcees, Medill Junior Adam Yates (‘19) and School of Communications Senior Kelly Eichenholz (‘18), are just those people.
Before they hit the stage to guide over 1,000 NU students through 30 hours of NUDM mayhem, we decided to get to know them better (beyond their dance moves). We talked about why they work as a dynamic duo, their game plan for the 30 hours and why they love the primary beneficiary, Cradles to Crayons.
Walkup song of choice:
KE: Torn between Intoxicated by Martin Solveig and Glowed Up by KAYTRANADA and Anderson Paak
AY: “Bet on It” from HSM 2
Favorite snack at DM:
KE: Popsicles — sometimes the flavor changes but they’re always a fun snack
AY: Those sweet sweet cupcakes
When and why did you decide to apply to be emcees together?
KE: We officially decided to apply together right at the beginning of Fall quarter, though I’m convinced we subconsciously had our eyes on each other since Spring (maybe that’s just me??). Being one of the emcees has been a far-off dream of mine for the past couple of years—it was something I was never set on pursuing because I knew it was competitive and sometimes worried that I didn’t have the chops for it, but Adam and I just decided to go for it and I am so glad we did. It was super clear to me that we balanced each other really well, so I was confident we would do a good job if we got it.
AY: We decided in what was basically the first week back at school to apply to be emcees. We both knew the other person had long dreamt of being DM emcee and we knew we would be perfect partners for each other. Neither of us have ever missed a Dance Marathon, and our shared time dancing in the tent was a clear indication that we would love nothing more than to be on stage for the full 30 hours. We agreed that DM is one of favorite aspects of Northwestern, and we knew we would strongly regret not taking the chance to apply for such an amazing opportunity to lead the dancers in dancing for Cradles to Crayons and ECF.
In what ways does your co-emcee compliment you? What qualities do you share (and what qualities do you not share)?
KE: I sweat the small details more than Adam does (or at least more than he lets on), so he is great at making sure I feel confident and comfortable at every turn. He is also really good at reminding me how low stakes some situations are, right when I find myself getting nervous. I would say that generally our energies complement each other well because right when I may be dragging, Adam picks up the slack and vice versa. I think we really trust each other to put our best feet forward and get the job done. I am also seemingly way more sentimental than Adam, so I am looking forward to having him pull me together after the 30 hours is done—he is such a stable presence in my life! I know more song lyrics than Adam and my dance moves involve a little more arm flailing. We are both goofy in our own ways, so our sense of humor matches up really well.
AY: Kelly is much more of an NSYNC fan and I’m more of a BackStreet Boys fan. Other than that I think we share a lot of similar qualities in terms of always bringing 100% to whatever we do, and trying to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the situation. I am definitely excited to have Kelly there on stage with me to support me when I need an energy boost, and to reciprocate the energy for her whenever she needs it.
What’s your game plan for keeping up the energy?
KE: I think the biggest thing for me is keeping up the food / sugar intake and staying hydrated. Taking care of my body really contributes to keeping up the energy. A big thing for me is also just laughing through the exhaustion — really going to rely on cracking some Dad jokes to keep morale high !!
AY: Making sure there is a fire playlist for the full duration of the thirty hours, and just giving my entire self to DM for our time in the tent. I don’t think it will be hard to keep people motivated and high energy. Most of all, when you’re dancing for such an amazing cause, it’s quite easy to find internal motivation to keep going when you start to get tired.
What do you love about Cradles to Crayons?
KE: Where to begin?? Cradles to Crayons is a huge reason I decided to audition for emcee in the first place — their goals as an organization are multifaceted and work against so many struggles of childhood poverty. This issue is something that is so debilitating to many families in the Chicagoland area, and when cost of many childhood essentials are covered, it takes such a load off of hardworking parents who want the best for their kids. Cradles’ four initiatives, Ready for School, Gear Up for Baby, Spring Greening, and Gear Up for Winter all address different needs of children that are often overlooked. If a child is not able to afford a winter coat or boots, it affects the way they socialize and perceive things like recess. Snow and winter weather becomes scary, not exciting. Taking that wonder away from children can be so damaging— those first years in school should be about fearless exploration and discovery. More than that, if a baby does not have diapers, they cannot attend day care, which usually means that a hardworking parent has to stay home and take care of their child. This limitation continues the negative feedback loop of disadvantaged families, and Cradles wants to stop that pattern in its tracks. C2C often uses the phrase quality = dignity. You can see that they stick to this mission statement when visiting the Giving Factory. The items they give to these kids are in mint condition, and they make sure they are only giving away the best. This helps so many kids in the Chicagoland area feel seen and valued. I can’t think of any cause I would want to support more than that feeling.
AY: I love that Cradles to Crayons alleviates the burden of supplying basic needs for families in the Chicago area. Oftentimes, people take for granted access to school supplies, warm clothes, diapers for babies, and other common necessities. The first time I volunteered for Cradles to Crayons was when I was in second grade and my sister chose the organization as her Bat Mitzvah “Mitzvah Project.” Since then, I have been able to volunteer and visit C2C at their Boston location many times. I was thrilled to learn that C2C had opened a Chicago branch, and even more excited when I found out that they were NUDM’s primary beneficiary this year. The scale of the operation is so impressive, and the impact the organization has is equally astounding. C2C also helps you realize how easy it is to make a significant difference in someone’s life, and as cliche as it sounds, they’re making Chicago a better place by caring for and providing for the city’s residents.
If you had an unlimited budget, how would you change NUDM? (if at all)
KE: I would want all of the dancers to have a sports drink of their choice (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) They would get to choose the flavor and everything!! Maybe have more elaborate meals? To be honest, though, it is pretty amazing what all of the committees are able to do with the budget- the tent is so amazing and I really think it is close to impossible to be hungry during the 30 hours. If I had an unlimited budget I would also put like a concert series in the middle of the night so that it makes those hours go quicker — ie. Jason Derulo concert at 4amfollowed by Beyonce followed by Khalid followed by Rihanna etc etc seriously who would not be excited by that? It would be like a music festival at NUDM.
AY: I don’t know if there’s anything I would change about NUDM specifically, but I would definitely try and use the budget to get some crazy performers during the breaks. Like the Jabbawockeez or Thunk A Capella.
If you weren’t dancing for 30 hours straight, how would you spend a normal weekend?
KE: I would probably go downtown with friends (to some kind of dance-y bar), catch up on homework, see a movie, grab brunch / a meal with someone I haven’t seen in a bit, maybe go to a museum or show downtown, SLEEP! It depends weekend to weekend but I like to mix it up.
AY: A combination of homework, eating at Panera, eating at Bagel Art, seeing a movie, seeing on campus theater, get a nice Shabbos dinner at Hillel, have a long phone call with my relatives, listening to music, sleeping.