I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about the 24 hour Dance Marathon. This is a dream that I have had since I was a little girl. Of course, I always intended on participating and instead I am the person in charge but it is ok and in some ways, it’s better. I know you are wondering why I am so interested in dance marathons so I am going to write this blog throughout the planning process so you will hopefully get a glimpse over the next 21 days!
My mom Madeline was a great storyteller. I guess she got it from my Grandpa, her father. She used to tell me tales that her father told her that she translated into essays in school for which she received A’s. I guess that is why I thought she was exaggerating about dancing for 1200 hours. 1200 hours seemed like an awful lot and it is….50 days….Wow. Until I found the photo that she had taken at the marathon, I don’t think I really believed her. There it was in black and white….1200 hours.
The pictures that she had taken were funny, or at least my sisters and I thought so. At 16, she looked much older and her partner looked kind of scary. I guess it was the way they took pictures in 1930. Neither of them were very photogenic. Who was he I would ask her? “I don’t know, some guy” she would always respond. I couldn’t get much more information about him but I am guessing he was probably a guy she was teamed up with when she signed up. In her opinion, at least he was willing to dance!
With the onset of the depression in 1929, Dance Marathons sprung up all over the country. 1st place prizes ranged from $300-$1000 per couple. That was a whole lot of money in 1930 and the dancers took it very seriously. I think my mom wanted to use her winnings to go to Hollywood to become a movie star.
Until I watched They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? I didn’t really appreciate how grueling a dance marathon could be. For those of you who have never seen the movie, get a hold of a copy and watch it! Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin star in this 1969 film about a Dance Marathon in 1932. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards though it only received one. Without giving away the plot, I can guarantee that our marathon won’t turn out like this one did!
Check back soon for more of my mom’s journey through 50 days of dancing while I am making my own journey through the process of organizing this dance marathon.
Thanks for reading!
Dona Henry - Dance Marathon Chair