Shut Up & Dance was held Saturday, April 9, 2016 to benefit MANNA , featuring choreography and original works by dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet. The dancers create, choreograph, and produce this event in their free time, between their already rigorous ballet schedules, to benefit MANNA. This special performance was held at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia.
MANNA hosts many events in Philadelphia. They provide nourishing meals to people in the region who are battling life-threatening illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes. Last year’s “Shut Up & Dance” show brought in more than $130,000 for the organization, equating to more than 36,000 meals for MANNA clients.
MANNA is a non-profit organization that cooks and delivers nutritious, medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to neighbors who are battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease and HIV/AIDS. Through our delivery of 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, MANNA provides hope and nourishment to the Greater Philadelphia area and Southern New Jersey.
Volunteers are the heart of MANNA; each year 2500 caring neighbors chop, cook, dice and deliver meals – enabling MANNA to provide all meals and counseling free of charge.
Built in 1927 by the Shubert Organization, the Forrest Theatre has played host to hundreds of theatrical productions over the years, including Broadway musicals, comedies, dramas, Yiddish theatre, dance programs, Gilbert & Sullivan productions, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Still owned and operated by the Shubert Organization for over eight decades, the Forrest Theatre continues to be a shining star in Philadelphia’s theatre community.
On April 9th, crows gathered at the Forest Theatre to see the PA Ballet perform for MANNA’s 24th Annual Shut UP and Dance event. Beginning at 6 pm there was a VIP cocktail hour catered by Di Bruno Brothers. The performance began at 8pm.
Local drag celeb Martha Graham Cracker was the host for this year’s performance, the show had previously been hosted for more than 20 years by Michaela Majoun of WXPN.
Dito van Reigersberg, who portrays Martha Graham Cracker, said “MANNA will nourish your body and Martha Graham Cracker will nourish your soul. I am honored to be passed the torch by Michaela Majoun.”
Van Reigersberg is a native of Washington, D.C., and co-founder of Pig Iron Theatre Company. He performs as Martha Graham Cracker in a monthly cabaret series at L’Etage and has performed at local venues such at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Trocadero Theater.
This year’s performance was not to be missed, dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Art Institute, BalletX and Brian Sanders Junk performed. Ian Hussey, Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer, returned as the producing director for his fifth year. Hussey has participated in Shut Up & Dance since 2004. The inspirational videos really made us think and Martha Graham Cracker was a great personality to lead the evening. Our favorite dance was choreographed to Beyonce’s Formation and there was a very steamy number by the male dancers. Free champagne was also served to guests at intermission. We are glad to have had the opportunity to attend such a unique event and work with such a inspiring organization.
We plan to attend more MANNA events this year and hopefully see you there! Check out these other great fundraising events by MANNA.
We would like to thank MANNA and Laura Payne for providing us tickets to attend this years performance. Additional images via @mannanourishes Instagram.