MANNA: Shut Up and Dance - 6abc Loves the Arts

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Shut Up and Dance is April 9th at 8pm at the Forrest Theatre. (WPVI)

Dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet are getting ready for Shut Up and Dance, their annual one-night-only benefit for MANNA, a nonprofit with a mission of providing food as medicine.

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancer Ian Hussey is the producing director of Shut Up and Dance and says all of the dancers volunteer their time to put on the show.

"The dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet direct, produce, choreograph, dance in all in benefit of MANNA."

MANNA was founded in 1990 when the AIDS epidemic was raging and the organization wanted to do something to help.

"MANNA started as a way to feed these people that were so sick and didn't have the means or the funds to properly nourish themselves," says Hussey.

MANNA now serves people suffering from all life threatening illnesses and with the help of Shut Up and Dance, they're able to serve more than 70,000 meals a month to more than 800 people.

"It's really important for the dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet to support something that's so pivotal in our community," says Hussey.

This year will be their 24th annual performance, and for the first time ever, drag cabaret performer Martha Graham Cracker is hosting.

"We're so happy to have her. I guarantee you you're going to see some pretty wild fireworks with her on stage," says Hussey who says expect a lot of variety as well, "you'll see a hip hop piece. You're going to see a more modern dance. You're going to see some contemporary ballet."

Altogether, he says it creates a very unique energy, "there's a lot of comedic pieces, stuff you wouldn't see at a normal dance show."

Last year's event raised more than $130,000; this year the dancers hope to top that, "It's all for a good cause; It's using our art to give back," says Hussey.

Shut Up and Dance is April 9th at 8pm at the Forrest Theatre.
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