Though the Line Dance song is one unheard of by most, by the end of the 46-hour Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, it will be a melody few in the Bryce Jordan Center will forget.
Melanie Sessa, overall morale chairwoman, said the song they chose has to be a song not many know about at first.
“We want to elicit that THON feeling,” she said. “Not have [it be something] you’ve heard on the radio.”
Tonight and Tuesday in Alumni Hall, the line dance will be revealed to committee members, while they spend about an hour learning the dance.
Shannon Holzer, 2012 line dance coordinator, said her main job was to “facilitate [its] creation.”
“This dance made up in someone’s basement is going to be done by 15,000 people,” she said.
One of Holzer’s favorite THON memories was her freshman year, when she was first able to be on the floor. When the first line dance happened, she said she was standing next to a Four Diamonds family, when the mother began crying, adding how incredible it was that all these children get to do the line dance together. It was then that Holzer (senior-classics and ancient Mediterranean studies and journalism) understood the importance of the line dance, she said.
“[We] create this powerful thing that bonds the whole BJC together,” she said.
This year’s line dance coordinator Emma Gregory said she is thankful to have the role.
“I feel very blessed to organize this gift,” she said.
Sessa (senior-marketing and public relations) said the process of creating the line dance is a year-long effort that begins with the selection of the line dance coordinator by the overall morale chair. What the morale members look for in a line dance coordinator is someone who demonstrates a passion for THON, along with someone who has either music or dance experience, she said.
Gregory (junior-nutrition) said she has plenty of “experience teaching dance to non-dancers.”
“We want to make sure it’s achievable by everyone in the Bryce Jordan Center,” Gregory said.
After listening to many song submissions, one is chosen during the fall semester. Over winter break, all 22 morale captains head to their homes and begin working on couplets that focus on pop culture, news, sports, Penn State and THON, Sessa said.
Then, during the first weekend back during the semester, all 22 captains headed to Sessa’s house for a “line dance retreat.” There, she said, they first begin writing more couplets and figuring out ways to join them together. Sessa said after these are finalized, the dance moves begin.
She added that during the process, everyone figures out his or her own strengths, and in the end the line dance “combines effortlessly.”
“There’s not one person who commits the most,” she said. “It’s a complete group effort.”
After the line dance retreat weekend, two practices are held a week for two hours, Sessa said, in order to look uniform on stage.
Gregory said she understands the pace people learn at and tries to organize practices based on whom she’s working with. After the initial teaching, they work on perfecting the dance.
“I do get pretty nit-picky,” she said, noting that she can be heard shouting out “straight arms” and other details, while the morale captains practice. Sessa added that it’s important to keep the line dance a secret from the dancers.
“It kicks off their experiences [at THON weekend],” she said