Although some people may be cutting down on their entertainment expenses to slow the thinning of their wallets, one upcoming dance performance will result in a big payout — for the audience and, more importantly, area residents battling life-threatening illnesses.
All proceeds from the Pennsylvania Ballet’s annual “Shut Up & Dance” performance will benefit Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritional Alliance, a tradition the company has continued for 17 years.
“Shut Up & Dance” will kick off at 8 p.m. March 28 at the Forrest Theater, 1114 Walnut St.
MANNA provides nutritional meals for local individuals who are affected by such diseases as HIV/AIDS.
Last year’s event raised $125,000, and MANNA executive director Richard Keaveney said the organization is looking to draw $155,000 this year, a figure he noted would comprise about 5 percent of the organization’s total budget and that could provide meals for tens of thousands of local individuals.
“Shut Up & Dance” differs from other Pennsylvania Ballet productions in that the dancers themselves choreograph their numbers.
Jonathan Stiles, who will serve as the producing director of the program for the second consecutive year, said 12 dancers will choreograph the performances, directing the dozens of performers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and its affiliate troupe, the Pennsylvania Ballet II.
The dancers began planning for the performances in January and went full-speed-ahead last month.
“Everyone’s been rehearsing in the evenings after they’re done their work at the Pennsylvania Ballet, so we’re there five nights a week, from 6-8, after our day at the ballet is done,” Stiles said. “People also find times during the day when a studio’s open or on their lunch breaks to pull everyone together.”
Each piece will fall within 4-6 minutes and range from solo performances to group dances with up to seven performers.
Stiles said the dancers will perform to a vast array of musical selections.
“There’s everything from contemporary pop music to classical music, as well as some neo-classical and high-energy jazz.”
Keaveney said the show usually draws audience members ages 20s-60s with varying economic backgrounds.
“In many ways, it’s reflective of the total MANNA family, which creates this special energy around the night,” Keaveney said. “It’s the one night a year that we have 1,700 people in one room and we can inspire them about what they’re supporting and the mission we provide.”
Stiles said the event is beneficial for the entire community.
“We’re all kind of looking a little more closely at where our entertainment dollars are going, and I think we should do what we can to keep them in the area,” he said. “These dollars go right back into Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.”
Tickets to “Shut Up & Dance” range from $50-$100, also with packages that include tickets to an after-party with the dancers at SoleFood Restaurant, which will feature openly gay DJ Robert Drake.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.mannapa.org.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.