Quiet Dancing, Big Impact

‘Shut Up & Dance’ Saturday
By Lindsay Warner, The Bulletin

At the Pennsylvania Ballet’s studios in East Falls, the mood is one of casual concentration. With one week to go until the annual “Shut Up & Dance” performance to benefit MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, an organization that provides nutritional meals and counseling to people living with life-threatening illnesses), the dancers are scattered throughout the practice studios working out the kinks for the special one-night-only benefit on March 28.

The traditionally sold-out show of premieres and new works choreographed and performed by dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet brings in an average of $100,000 to $120,000  net income per year — nearly 100 percent of which is donated back to MANNA.

Now in its 17th year, Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Stiles reflects on changes since the ballet’s first involvement, when a group of dancers were looking for a way to remember and to aid members of the dance world who had been affected by HIV/AIDS. Tired of tossing around different ideas about the proposed event’s logistics, one of the dancers famously said “why don’t we just shut up and dance?”