By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This Saturday, the Pennsylvania Ballet will hold its 20th annual “Shut Up and Dance” fundraiser to benefit MANNA, a nonprofit that delivers meals to those living with HIV or other life-threatening illnesses.
Shut Up and Dance is a different type of ballet performance, says Ian Hussey, the producing director of this year’s benefit.
“It’s very raw, edgy. There are no wings, there are no curtains. When you walk in you’re going to see us on stage warming up; we want the audience to feel that they are one with us.”
Hussey says Pennsylvania Ballet dancers donate their time to choreograph and rehearse the one-night-only show and use it as an opportunity to be a little more creative.
“All of the pieces are really more contemporary in nature. You won’t see a lot of classical ballet. [For example,] Eric Trope’s piece this year — he’s one of our younger choreographers — his movement is very balletic, but it has an angular edginess to it.”
Hussey says, the reason why the ballet company has done this benefit for two decades is because they get to dance for a cause they believe in.
“They created Shut Up and Dance because they had a lot of friends who were dying of HIV and AIDS in the early 90’s, when the epidemic was at its highest point. They wanted to do something and they found this non-profit, MANNA, who was doing such incredible work — they provide meals to people dying from this horrible disease. So, they used their art to help the people they love.”
He says the benefit raised about $100,000 for MANNA last year.
The performance takes place Saturday at the Forrest Theatre. For more info, go to mannapa.org.