Site Network

Debbie Allen Is Throwing a Massive Dance-a-thon—and You're Invited

Jayme Thornton

In this global economic crisis, it sometimes feels like the plight of dancers has been largely ignored. So Debbie Allen is on a mission to change that. "They don't list dance and the arts as essential," she says, "but we are! We give people more joy and hope than almost anything."

To spread that joy and hope—and raise some sorely needed funds—Allen is putting on a 12-hour digital dance-a-thon on Saturday, June 13, called Dance To The Music. Along with her co-host, choreographer JaQuel Knight, Allen will be livestreaming from 12 pm to 12 am Pacific, sharing impromptu performances from top dancers, inspirational conversations with celebrities, dance classes with major choreographers, spotlights on studios around the country, and DJ sets that will get us all moving together.


Black and white closeup of JaQuel Knight, leaning toward the camera

JaQuel Knight will co-host along with Allen.

Hao Zeng, Courtesy The Purple Agency

Presented by Debbie Allen Dance Academy, JaQuel Knight Foundation, Dance Media, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Annenberg Foundation, the event's main goal is to raise funds for dancers, choreographers and dance teachers whose jobs have been derailed by the impact of COVID-19. But Allen also hopes to uplift everyone though dance, and raise awareness for the many virtual dance opportunities being shared online today.

"Right now, as governors announce that our industry will be part of the last phase to open, artists like myself, we're dying to be creative," says New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck, who will be featured on the stream. "So many of us feel so isolated—we're all at our respective homes, but we're used to dancing together. We're dying to be unified as one community."

The lineup includes dozens of special guests: mainstream names like Dolly Parton, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ellen Pompeo and Billy Porter, plus dance stars like Misty Copeland, Mia Michaels, the Rockettes and Savion Glover.

"Debbie is like the mother of dance to all of us," adds Peck. "If anyone can pull all these people together, it's her."

The entire event will stream live on Allen's Instagram, @TheRealDebbieAllen, and Facebook page.

Before the show, Dance Magazine and our friends at Pointe and Dance Spirit will be hosting "red carpet" conversations on Instagram Live with several of the stars that are scheduled to appear.

One more element of fun? The dance studio that hosts the biggest digital watch party with their students on Zoom or Google Meet will receive complimentary subscriptions to Dance Media magazines and special recognition at the Dance Teacher Magazine Awards. To enter, just send a screenshot of your video chat and a count of participants to danceathon@dancemedia.com by Monday, June 15.

Funds raised through Dance To The Music will go to The Actor's Fund, Career Transition for Dancers, The International Association of Blacks In Dance, International Association for Dance Medicine & Science, Dance Resource Center, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, The JaQuel Knight Foundation's Dancer Relief Fund, National Dance Education Organization, Dance/USA, The NYC Dancer Relief Fund and other non-profit organizations.

What's more, Allen hopes this event will bring "energy and light" to the dance world, and connect us all together.

"When I did my very first Instagram class in March," she recalls, "there was a woman who was raising her children and hadn't taken a moment for herself, but decided, 'I'm going to go take this class.' And she came out of it so motivated. She had been in kind of a dark place. And then outside, dancing, she remembered the trees were green, the clouds were flowing, the birds were flying and the world was still beautiful in the midst of all we're dealing with. That is what dance brings."

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.