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Lythgoe at home in L.A. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

Nigel Lythgoe makes it clear that he is not a dance teacher. The one time he was invited as a student to teach little kids, he scared the hell out of them. He was impersonating a jack-in-the-box, and when the kids approached, he jumped up and shrieked. "Three of the little girls ran off," says Lythgoe. "Two of them peed themselves, and I was never allowed to go near little kids or teach them again. That was my one experience as a dance teacher. And now they're giving me an award!"

But Lythgoe has done as much as anyone to draw America's consciousness to the art of dance. And that is, in a very pervasive, influential way, teaching.

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Dancers celebrating National Dance Day (via Instagram)

Back in 2010, "So You Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe established National Dance Day, an annual celebration of all things dance and a fundraiser for the dance education nonprofit then known as the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Since then, NDD has become a phenomenon. Each year, dancers and dance fans have learned an official NDD routine, showed up in droves for high-profile NDD events at the Kennedy Center and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and hosted countless NDD parties of their own—always on the last Saturday in July.

But there are big changes afoot (see what we did there?) this year. The 2019 celebration will jump forward a few months on the calendar, to Saturday, September 21st. And Dizzy Feet has undergone an evolution of its own, with a new focus on the health benefits of dance, a new collaboration with the American Heart Association, and a new name: American Dance Movement.

We caught up with Lythgoe to talk about the reasons for all the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

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Dance News

Fred and Adele Astaire

Here at DT, we love the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards. Established in 1982 in honor of the king of movie musicals Fred Astaire and his equally talented sister Adele, the Astaire Awards are the one awards event each year dedicated solely to the hoofers, bunheads, jazzerinas and choreographic geniuses making waves on Broadway, off Broadway and in film.

The 2016 Astaire Awards, which took place last night at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, were eventful, to say the least. The award for Outstanding Choreographer for a Broadway Show went to, not one, not two, but three remarkable dancemakers: tap sensation Savion Glover for Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, Sergio Trujillo for his Latin moves in On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan and Broadway golden boy Andy Blankenbuehler for the record-setting Hamilton.

Shuffle Along dominated the awards with additional wins for Best Male Dancer (Phillip Attmore) and Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show. For Outstanding Choreography in a Feature Film, Dave Scott won for the ballet-meets-hip-hop flick High Strung, starring former Mariinsky ballerina Keenan Kampa and The PULSE wunderkind Ian Eastwood.

Special awards went to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director emerita Judith Jamison, “So You Think You Can Dance” producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe, Broadway and film tap star Maurice Hines and Dr. Joan Fallon for her work with autism and related disorders.

The 2016 Tony Awards are coming up on Sunday, June 12. If the Astaire Awards are any indicator, it will be a stiff competition. Who do you think will take home the coveted award for Best Choreography?

Shuffle Along took home three Astaire Awards and is nominated for 10 Tony Awards.

Photos (from top): courtesy of @theastaireawards; courtesy of @shufflealongbroadway

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Dance News

Nigel Lythgoe with NDEO executive director Susan McGreevy-Nichols (third from right) and NDEO staffPeanut butter and jelly. Barnum and Bailey. Rodgers and Hammerstein. And now, NDEO and Dizzy Feet.

As part of the National Dance Education Organization’s conference this year in Miami, Nigel Lythgoe announced a new partnership between his Dizzy Feet Foundation and NDEO to support dance education standards. Lythgoe, the co-creator of television dance powerhouse “So You Think You Can Dance,” co-founded Dizzy Feet in 2009 to increase access to dance education in the United States, mainly by exposing children in low-income areas to the artform via local organizations and dance study scholarships. It’s no surprise, then, that he was eager to partner with NDEO, a fellow nonprofit devoted to advancing dance education through advocacy, professional development, standards and support services. The two organizations will now combine their considerable powers and outreach to keep dance education on the up-and-up—in all genres of dance and in every institution where it is taught.

"We are honored to earn the respect of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which recognizes NDEO for its work in advocating for quality dance education across the US," says Susan McGreevy-Nichols, executive director of NDEO. "The partnership with DFF will help NDEO reach a broader audience."

This year’s conference, which began on October 23 and will continue until the 27th, is focused on “The Art and Craft of Teaching.” Hundreds of dance teachers were present to hear Lythgoe’s announcement.

Photo courtesy of NDEO

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