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Philadelphia Dance Day gets the city moving

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

So you think you can dance? Well, even if you don’t, organizers hope you’ll come out for Philadelphia Dance Day. The sixth annual nonprofit festival on July 25 features free workshops, live performances from some of the city’s best-known instructors, and a huge dance party. The goal is to unite the community in celebrating dance as a powerful platform for creative expression and physical activity.
The idea for the event came from the show “So You Think You Can Dance” (SYTYCD). Organizer Deborah Hirsch, who owns Philly Dance Fitness, said in a telephone interview that she loves the show and its idea for a National Dance Day, which started in 2010. So she organized Philadelphia Dance Day.
It’s an endeavor, but seeing people having a good time while moving makes all the work worth it.
“For participants, it can be a long but fun day filled with a diverse schedule of dance workshops and a lot of high energy,” she said. “You could dance all day.”
People can choose from a variety of dance styles — tango, swing, salsa, jazz, ballet, belly and ethnic dancing, and more. They even can learn the official SYTYCD hip hop routine that others around the country, who are participating in dance days, also will be learning.
Hirsch thinks Philadelphia Dance Day is a great opportunity for the city’s dance and fitness community.
“It’s a chance to partner with dance organizations and showcase what fun avenues of dancing there are around the city,” she said.
She’s happy with the response the event has received, both from other companies and from participants. She’s hopeful it will keep growing.
People don’t have to have natural ability or even coordination to participate. It’s just important that they move.
“You can dance for fitness or for art,” she said. “Dance is a workout that’s fun. You stay motivated because you love dancing. You give it your all, sweat, and have a good time.”
Some people discover once they start moving that they can dance and then want to learn more. Some of Hirsch’s students who have done just that will perform during a showcase on Dance Day.
It’s a thrill for her to work on this event because of how much she herself loves dance.
“I’ve always loved dancing,” Hirsch said. “I love music. I love how it makes me want to move my body. I love the exhilaration of dancing. You’re so into it, it doesn’t feel like work.”
And for those who could dance for exercise, it’s better than going to the gym.
“Running on a treadmill’s a drag,” she said.
She hopes that those who aren’t sure will give it a try and participate in some part of Philadelphia Dance Day. They never know what could happen or what they’ll get out of it.
“Even if you’re not particularly great at dancing, it can make you feel happy,” she said. “We don’t care what you can do. We just want people to take a chance and see what the different companies have to offer.”

IF YOU GO

What: Philadelphia Dance Day
When: July 25
Where: Various sites in Philadelphia
Admission: All daytime workshops 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. are free (first-come, first-served); evening activities from 4:30 on have a one-time $5 cover charge.
Info.: Call (215) 645-2717 or visit http://philadelphiadanceday.com/

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