MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), together with Pennsylvania Ballet brought a hot dance night to the Forrest Theater on an unusually freezing April night. This year, the baton of mistress of ceremonies passed on to Martha Graham Cracker, the Philadelphia’s beloved drug queen. Led by her powerful voice, the packed theater got steamier and sweatier.
It is not too much to say that it was one of the most successful and gorgeous performances in Philadelphia this year. The show opened with “Walk Like an Egyptian”, performed by Martha and dancers, then a tango, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, danced by Craig Wasserman and Ian Hussey, the Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer and producing director of SHUT UP & DANCE 2016 on Martha’s bewitching vocal.
Pennsylvania Ballet dancers’ Spirited Syncopations (Jackie Callahan, Maggie Fiering, Michael Holden and Sarah Gabrielle Ryan) was flawless and charming. The students of University of Arts showed a powerful and captivating dance to Kany West’s “FML/FADE” and Beyonce’s “Formation” ((IN)FORMATION.) There was also a stunning piece by BalletX dancer Richard Villaverde (excerpt from Beast) and a tradition of SHUT UP & DANCE 2016, Dying Swan, beautifully danced by Pennsylvania Ballet dancer Kelsey Hellebuyck. Brian Sanders’ Junk brought the steamiest performance of the night, a cabaret chair dance by four topless male dancers, Regan Jackson, Teddy Fatscher, Billy Robinson and Tommy Schimmel (excerpt from Carried Away.)
The success of the event shows the strong connections and devotions of MANNA and the dancers to the community in Philadelphia. The donation that was made at the performance will be a source of life for those who struggle with illness and nutrition issues. So let’s all shut up & dance, shall we?
[The Forrest Theater, 1114 Walnut street] April 9, 2016; mannapa.org.