The folks at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts invite all families to join them (from the comfort of their homes) this Saturday in celebration of the 11th annual National Dance Day, a nationwide event to encourage people of all ages to incorporate dance in their lives, both as a form of artistic expression and a joyful venue for exercise.
“Though we usually celebrate National Dance Day on-site, this year’s celebration will be a free virtual event. We wanted to make sure that everybody could get up off their couches and dance in their living rooms with their families,” said Jane Rabinovitz, co-director of dance programming. “Our goal this year was to make National Dance Day a daylong opportunity for people to dance and also to feature D.C. dance organizations that have been closed because of the pandemic.”
From 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., the event will feature a series of classes and demonstrations by dance organizations and studios from each of D.C.’s wards.
“We wanted to make sure that people get a taste for what types of dance are happening throughout the city and to see that it is everywhere,” said Rabinovitz. “When we chose the lineup for the celebration, variety was key. One of the highlights of the day is that we get to feature dance styles and genres that are the full gamut of moving your body. We will have an Afrobeats class, a couple of jazz classes, ballet, a fitness class and even a disco class this year.”
Children will especially find the day’s earlier classes engaging. The ballet class at 11 a.m. is geared to 8- to 10-year-olds, and the jazz and contemporary dance class at noon is designed for older children and preteens.
The virtual celebration was designed for these unique times and it not only makes participation possible for families at home but also has several added benefits.
“Sometimes people get self-conscious about dancing in a crowd, but the beauty of this year’s event is that they are dancing in their own living rooms,” said Rabinovitz. “They can dance like nobody is watching and just cut loose.”
The full schedule of the 45-minute sessions can be accessed at kennedy-center.org and classes can be viewed on the Kennedy Center’s Facebook and YouTube sites.
In addition to providing an opportunity to exercise and try out new movements and steps, National Dance Day has the potential to inspire participants to continue their exploration with dance.
“For children and adults, seeing a dance performance for the first time can spark dreams of dancing professionally or simply the inspiration to get into a studio in the future and try dancing for themselves,” said Rabinovitz. “And dance can enhance physical fitness, combat obesity and give people self-confidence and self-awareness in space. Dance has value for every life—beyond the performing arts.”
The climax of the day’s offerings is the 6 p.m. unveiling of the 2020 official National Dance Day routine, which will include demonstrations of the various steps and movements, culminating in a performance simultaneously by all viewers. This year’s featured routine has been choreographed by Shannon Mather and will be performed on-screen by MDC 3, the Season Four winners of NBC’s “World of Dance.”
Viewers at home can participate in the classes of their choices or dance throughout the day.
“My mantra for this year’s National Dance Day is ‘Let’s Try It On!’” said Rabinovitz. “I hope that all kids and families will make an effort to specifically try something they’ve never done before and see what they think.”
Saturday’s celebration is presented in partnership with the Kennedy Center, American Dance Movement and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). National Dance Day was established in 2010 by American Dance Movement co-founder Nigel Lythgoe, creator and judge for “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Hairspray” producer Adam Shankman.
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