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."

Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.