Behind the Scenes: Crafting the Line Dance
The line dance is one of the most memorable parts of THON, something that from year to year dancers and spectators alike carry with them in their memories of THON. The finished product usually runs about five minutes long, and takes the better part of an hour to teach to the dancers, but the creation process takes months.
I got a chance to ask Morale Captain and Line Dance Coordinator Jaci Mayer about the development of the line dance. Mayer said that the Captains started thinking of ideas for this year’s dance back in October. “At our second or third meeting we start writing down different sports, news, pop culture that we like.” Anything related to Penn State or THON, especially anything new, goes into the mix as well.
The next step is choosing the song. “We listen to new ones every week , to make sure it has an upbeat tempo,” Mayer said. A catchy chorus is also important for a really good line dance. The Captains vote and eliminate songs until they find one that works best, deciding on a winner in December.
The line dance really begins to take shape in January. The Captains all go away for a weekend and set dance moves to each couplet in the song. “It kind of just writes itself,” said Mayer. “It’s a really cool process. We put it together in about 24 hours in a weekend.” Almost straight through, she added.
It may take an hour for dancers to learn the dance initially, but it takes much longer for the Captains to teach it to themselves. The dancers learn to perfect the line dance by taking a crack a it 46 times, but the Captains work intensely to make sure they have it down before THON. “We practice four hours every weekend,” Mayer said. “Two hours on Friday and two on Saturday, every weekend until THON.”
Mayer said her favorite parts of the dance are “the different dances incorporated into it, like the Dougie. And Toy Story really hits home with everybody.” Overall, “It’s fun,” she said. “People really enjoy it. It’s relaxed but structured, which is good.” And judging by the energy in the BJC each time the Morale Captains are called the stage, everyone seems to agree.