Quote of the Day: Was the Marathon Dance Craze the first step that led us to our current moment of Reality TV, watching the struggles of others as entertainment? Carson Kreitzer, playwright for Dance ‘Til You Drop, on stage at the History Theatre in St. Paul, MN through April 15, 2018.
Dancing continuously for 3,780 hours sounds unfathomable. How could they even do it? That’s over five and a half months of dancing in the same contest, pressed close to your partner, with 15 minute breaks every hour, or so, and by the end, no breaks at all. You took care of any personal business during those brief 15 minutes, and slept on the floor, or standing up leaning against your partner. It was insane. In fact, I’m sure some of the contestants did have moments of delusions and insanity. The dancers who portrayed those contestants did an incredible job of showing us how amazing an art form that dance is, how the contestants of those marathons managed to stay on their feet, what happened when they didn’t, and how much grit and determination it takes to continue through the pain and exhaustion.
The idea for this story started with a headstone in the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN. Callum deVillier’s headstone read, World Champion Marathon Dancer 3780 Continuous Hours. The stage adaptation of this amazing feat starts with him in his barber shop in St. Louis Park, MN telling the story of how he danced for over five and a half months with his partner Vonny Kuchinski. It is fascinating to watch. Not only is dance a beautiful art form, it is a wonderful way to tell this story. It includes the athleticism needed to dance, the stamina it takes to perform, and the incredible mental strength to keep going. It’s a lesson that Cal took throughout his life.
This production takes tremendous collaboration between its creators and performers. Anya Kremenetsky is the director. Regina Peluso is the choreographer and the one with the original idea. Her dance company Collide is collaborating with the History Theatre and Artistic Director Ron Peluso (not related). The dancers perform with a live band, set up and to the back of the stage, led by Doug Rohde, vocals by Katie Gearty and Pearce Bunting (who also plays the older Cal). I loved this score! Set in 1933, you have big band, nostalgia, ragtime, and a mix of classic and modern dance, with movements specifically to describe the experiences of the marathon dancers. I’ll never forget that “Exhaustion” number. All of the dancers are terrific, especially Andrea Mislan and Patrick Jeffrey in the leading roles.
You can see Dance ‘Til You Drop at the History Theatre in St. Paul, MN through April 15, 2018.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
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I couldn’t even dance fifteen minutes! At least those in the show didn’t have to dance that long.