Although National Dance Day is observed across the country on the last Saturday in July, local dancers celebrated on Sunday afternoon by busting a move at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs.
Nearly a dozen local dance instructors demonstrated choreographed salsa, hip hop, jazz and swing moves to local dancers and the public. The day was a fundraiser for the museum and the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which helps increase access to dance education to children throughout the United States.
“It’s all about getting people up and moving,” Museum Program Director Sue Edwards said about the nationally recognized day. “It’s about creating a healthier America.”
If you’ve never heard of National Dance Day, that’s because it’s fairly new.
Nigel Lythgoe, an executive producer and judge on the hit television show “So You Think You Can Dance?” created the day in 2010. Soon after, it was recognized by Congress and the second annual National Dance Day took place on Saturday.
Lythgoe also founded the Dizzy Feet Foundation in 2009 with the help of fellow dance judge Carrie Ann Inaba and actress Katie Holmes.
The program gives thousands of dollars a year to youths for dance school scholarships and to community-based dance programs. Its goal is to “help underprivileged young people realize their dream of becoming professional dancers and to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the United States,” according to the foundation’s website.
Those who participate in Dance Day events are encouraged by the television show to record one of three choreographed dances provided by the show’s judges and then upload the videos onto their website. Those at the event in Saratoga Springs hoped their video would make it onto TV.
“I hope it gets on,” said Melanie Majewski of Schenectady. “We’re the National Museum of Dance, after all. But even if it doesn’t, the day is about getting more people to recognize dance, and I think we did that today.”
Majewski, 22, has danced all of her life and minored in dance at Buffalo State College. She now works at the museum part time. Her favorite part of the day was getting a lesson in Greek Dancing by Evan Euripidou of the Schenectady-based Fotia Hellenic Society.
“I’ve never done it before. I think it’s great people can come here and find such a different array of dances,” she said.
Leslie LaGuardia-Valencia, owner of Authur Murray Dance Studios in Saratoga Springs, was in charge of teaching the choreographed dance provided by the show to the group of participants. The goal is to have people across the country do the same dance on the same day about the same time. Due to a conflict this year, the museum postponed the celebration by one day.
“The fun thing about dancing is you burn calories and don’t even realize it,” said LaGuardia-Valencia.
Young dancers from several local studios participated as well.
Mari Perrella, 14, of Niskayuna, said she thought the event was exciting because it was the first year of a local dance day celebration.
“It’s good to see the public get involved,” she said.
Allie Pigliavento, 17, dances with Perrella at the Orlando School of Dance in Schenectady. She said she thought dancing was important because it’s a “universal motivator.”
“Who doesn’t get happy after they dance?” she asked.
Edwards said as time goes on, the day will become a huge celebration at the museum.
“As the only National Dance Museum in the world, we had to do something,” she said. “I hope to have more demonstrations and workshops taught by instructors from all over the area and eventually have a dance-off.”