(Photo by Kelly Leggett)
When something sticks around for 25 years — be it friendship, wine or performances by the city’s best ballerinas — you can assume it’s doing something right.
MANNA’s annual dance dance benefit, “Shut Up and Dance,” is returning for its 25th year on Saturday, April 29. The event features dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet and will be hosted by Martha Graham Cracker for the second time.
The event was founded a quarter-century ago by dancer and UArts instructor Michael Sheridan, said MANNA Marketing and Communications Director Maris Harmon.
“This partnership has a rich history and came about when Michael Sheridan and cofounders from the PA Ballet were feeling powerless and deeply affected by the AIDS epidemic,” Harmon said. “They wanted to give back to their community in a way related to this very personal and widespread issue, and were connected to MANNA through a mutual friend. They decided to use their art form — dance — to put on this fundraiser.”
MANNA delivers 80,000 meals per month to those living with illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. According to Harmon, last year’s “Shut Up and Dance” performance raised over $150,000 for the nonprofit after expenses — equivalent to 37,500 meals.
All told, the collaboration has earned almost $1.5 million for MANNA in the past 25 years. To what does “Shut Up and Dance” owe its staying power?
As shared by Events Manager Laura Payne, it’s thanks to “the unbelievable commitment of the dancers to put so much time and effort into a one-night-only performance, as well as our incredible supporters who turn out year after year.” Aw.-30-
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