Marathon Dancing Project (2015)

Marathon Dancing: Letters to Wall Street in the Era of Wonderful Nonsense, a collaborative project between Zishan Ugurlu and Julia M. Ritter.

Inspired by the 1969 Sydney Pollack film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and the Horace McCoy novel of the same name (1935), Marathon Dancing was conceived and directed by Zishan Ugurlu, resident director at New York City’s La MaMa Theatre, and choreographed by Julia M. Ritter. Ugurlu positions marathon dancing, a popular, yet exploitive form of entertainment that emerged from the American economic crisis of the 1920s-30s as the vehicle for exploring the Great Recession of 2008.


The early American dance marathons were gladiator competitions, during which economically disadvantaged individuals subjected their bodies to abuse with the hope of profiting financially. In this interdisciplinary production, Ugurlu and Ritter integrate text and movement with an original score by composer Keith Lalley to question how the early marathons are reiterated in popular and contemporary forms of entertainment through reality-TV shows such as Survivor.

Created in cooperation with the Departments of Dance, Music, Theater, and Visual Arts, and the Rutgers Filmmaking Center at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.  




Conception and Direction: Zishan Ugurlu
Choreography: Julia M. Ritter
Rehearsal Assistant/Dance Captain: Yildiz Guventurk
Tap Choreography: Shawn Brush (BFA Alum, Dance)
Sound Design: Keith Lalley (BM, Music)
Musicians: Michael Bond (piano), Jeff Dingler (bass), Keith Lalley (trombone), Sam Tobias (flute, trumpet), Yildiz Guventurk (guitar)
Video Design Assistant: Alex Rosenberg
Lighting Design: John Evans
Live Video Capture/Design: Gab Figueroa, Nick Lawless, Masyn Luck (Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking)
Set Design/Installation: Joshua Araujo (MFA, Visual Arts)
Weapons Consultant: Paul Molnar
Stage Manager: Theron Alexander (BFA, Theater)
Assistant Stage Manager/Props Manager: Bryan Russell (MFA, Theater)
Props Coordinator: Allen Cutler
Costume Designer: Meagan Woods (BFA Alumna, Dance)
Advisor: Mark Greif, editor of The Trouble is the Banks: Letters to Wall Street


GLORIA – Lillian Joergensen 
ROBERT – Sean Langford 
JAMES – Elias Rosa 
RUBY – Stacy Collado 
HARRY – Spencer Grossman 
SHIRL – Hyunjin Kim 
JOEL – Jeff Friedman (guest artist) 
ALICE – Charlotte Stout 
KID KAMM – David Parker 
MATTIE – Genna Mattana 
MARIO – Javier Padilla
JACKIE – Isabella Vergara 
PEDRO – Jose Vidal 
LILLIAN – Ashley Yehoda 
FRANKIE – Amelia Bonvento 
MATTHEW – Alex Rosenberg 
CAITLIN – Nimisha Mahiyaria 

JOHN/Director – Charles Milliken 
EMMA – Bria Bacon 
BEN – Neal Rodgers 


ROCKY – Jonny Woo (guest artist)
SOCKS – Joselin Martinez 
ROLLO – Andy Santana 
FLOOR JUDGE – Rebecca Cooney 
DOCTOR – Nia Imani Jackson 
NURSE – Adriana Santoro 
NURSE – Emma K’Meyer 
POLICEWOMAN – Sara Martino 
POLICEWOMAN – Nicole Cameli 
MRS. LAYDEN – Kelley Arney 
CYCLIST #1 – Maria Dorado 
CYCLIST #2 – Lauren Graham 
MARY ROACH/American Idol – Julia M. Ritter 
THE 1% – Dare Ayorinde, Kara Hestevold and Helen Snelgove

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