Virtual event

UI Dance Marathon navigates virtual event in light of omicron surge

Dance Marathon 28 leaders have made the decision to move the big event primarily online again due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, and will be planning hybrid events for attendees.


The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is gearing up this week for its 28th “big event,” which organization leaders have chosen to go live Jan. 12.

“We just had to make the decision that it’s not safe for us to have a gathering of this size,” said Anna Dodge, executive director of Dance Marathon 28.

She said the original plan was to have the event in person; however, with the spike in Omicron COVID-19 cases, it just wasn’t worth the risk.

“We made the announcement public on our Instagram and notified our families, sponsors and community partners,” she said. “Just so everyone can do that pivot as cleanly as possible.”

2022 is the second year that Dance Marathon will be held virtually, Dodge said, and Dance Marathon numbers generally go down due to virtual events.

“You look at our scorecard, and it’s lower than previous years in person,” she said. “I think that not only reflects the virtual landscape of the event, but also that the last two years have been incredibly difficult for people to take on extra stuff.”

Dodge said there were about 1,200 attendees this year for the big event. There will be hybrid options for specific groups during the event, however, she said.

“We have a few different opportunities for smaller groups to attend the Iowa Memorial Union to see different parts of the big event,” Dodge said.

She said the dancers involved in the hybrid options will be chosen based on their interactions throughout the year, their fundraising dollars and their participation.

There will also be leadership within the IMU throughout the event, Dodge said.

“Some of the management come in kinda just to do their different jobs to make the online event happen,” she said.

RELATED: UI Dance Marathon 2022 goes virtual

In an email to The Iowan Dailysenior associate director of event and facility operations at the Iowa Memorial Union Cory Lockwood wrote that the capacity limit was decided by multiple groups, including Dance Marathon.

“Student Dance Marathon leaders worked with the Student Life Division and UIHC leaders to determine capacity within the Iowa Memorial Union for the Big 28 Dance Marathon event,” a- he writes. “Considering that this group is working on behalf of a vulnerable population, they have chosen to limit the number of people who would be in person at any time during the event, moving the majority of attendance to a virtual format.

Data visualization by Kelsey Harrell/The Daily Iowan

Dodge said it limited attendance to 100 people.

“We’re allowed to have about 100 people in the whole space,” she said. “So we actually have different members of management on the third floor doing Zoom calls and on the second floor interacting with the dancers and our cameramen and stuff on the main stage.”

Dodge said she doesn’t know what the final total will look like this year, but people are still fundraising.

“I don’t know exactly what it will look like,” she said. “I know people are still fundraising, the money is still coming in, and we’re still working on those fundraising efforts. It kind of depends on how our last week went and all that stuff. But, we obviously continue to lobby for donations and are still actively seeking donations.

Although the decision to go online was difficult, Dodge said Dance Marathon is still excited for the event.

“Everyone has really stepped up and decided that no matter how this event goes, they’re always happy to support our families because that’s what they need,” she said.