Bhangra is huge attraction at annual NDD celebration.
Washington, DC: The fourth edition of the National Dance Day (NDD) celebration at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts drew a diverse crowd enthralled by a variety of high-caliber performances reflecting myriad cultures and traditions.Â The underlying goal was to embrace physical fitness and healthy exercise for a lifetime!
Among the distinguished speakers were: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat-DC); Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obamaâ€™s â€˜Letâ€™s Move!â€™ campaign to keep kids healthy, and senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition; and Amy Fitterer, Executive Director of Dance/USA.
National Dance Day catapulted to the spotlight in 2010 when Congresswoman Norton, an avid proponent of healthy lifestyles, introduced a congressional resolution declaring the last Saturday in July to be the countryâ€™s official NDD.Â She has been co-hosting the annual celebration for seven years now which began on the National Mall and moved to the Kennedy Center in 2013.
â€œCelebrating National Dance Day here in the nationâ€™s capital has revealed how many DC residents like me, love to danceâ€, she said.Â â€œThe annual celebration has brought people from all parts of the city to the Kennedy Center to appreciate dance not only as a great way to have fun and express yourself but to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active doing something you loveâ€.
Conveying greetings on behalf of the First Lady, Eschmeyer told the crowd, â€œWe are just so grateful for this incredible event celebrating the fun of movementâ€.Â About the â€˜Letâ€™s Move!â€™ initiative, she said, â€œWe work really hard to increase physical activity and make it easier to raise a healthier generationâ€.
The First Ladyâ€™s love for dance is well known.Â â€œWeâ€™re big fans of dance and movementâ€, Eschmeyer emphasized.
Itâ€™s interesting to note that before championing the First Ladyâ€™s signature campaign, Eschmeyer was a farmer.Â She owns a farm in western Ohio proximate to the dairy farm where she grew up.Â Health and nutrition are part of her being!
About the Kennedy Center NDD event, this year it was held outdoors on the North Plaza.Â It was a scorching hot day, alleviated partly by showers in the early afternoon.Â The rain held off long enough for a fun-filled day; evening activities, including â€˜Dancing Under the Starsâ€™, were canceled on account of area-wide thunderstorms.
Indian dance was a huge attraction â€“ gifted artists of DC Bhangra Crew (DCBC) regaled the dance-happy crowd with their energy-packed performance eliciting among the loudest cheers!Â The talented dancers were Faryal Bhatt, Megha Kaushik, Riya Pandeti, Alexandra Peterson, Shalini Ray and Maya Thakkar.
DCBC is an all-female Bhangra dance team which was formed by students of the George Washington University in 2008.Â Since then, it has expanded to include young ladies from all across the Washington metropolitan area â€œwho seek to explore the rich and vibrant culture of Punjab through the lens of performing artsâ€.
The Kennedy Center definitely attracts the finest talent!Â The performances were myriad by Alex Wong who led the Official 2016 National Dance Day Routine; Joy of Motion Dance Center; Dance Place Step Team; DEA Youth Dance Program Partner (hip hop); Oâ€™Neill James School of Irish Dance; Latin Dance Class with Katherine Kinnunen; Dance Institute of Washington (ballet and hip hop crossover); Jazz Class with Helen Hayes; and Native Pride Dancers, among others.
A highlight of the event was a Dance for Parkinsonâ€™s Class, led by Lucy Bowen McCauley, to mitigate the effects of the debilitating disease.Â Lucy founded the Arlington-based contemporary dance company, Bowen McCauley Dance, in 1996 to educate, entertain and inspire the community by making contemporary dance accessible to all through performances and outreach activities.Â Among the community outreach programs are â€˜Dance for PDâ€™ which offers free dance classes to people with Parkinsonâ€™s Disease and their care partners, and 10-15 school residencies per season.
On stage at the Kennedy Center, Fitterer declared, â€œOne of the great things about dance is that it works for everybody.Â It doesnâ€™t matter how old or young you are, it doesnâ€™t matter where youâ€™re from â€“ We all can move togetherâ€!
She noted, there are manifold studies which â€œprove that dance not only has an impact on our emotions, our ability to work together, it also has an impact on our brain.Â There are amazing neuroscience studies out there that prove dance helps us think better.Â It helps us be a better personâ€, she said.
â€œSo, no matter what kind of dance you do, any style, whether you take classes or just social dance — keep on dancingâ€, Fitterer implored the crowd.
About Dance/USA, she informed the gathering that it is the national service organization for professional dance.Â She encouraged working professionals or those who would like to get involved in the professional industry to visit the web-site at www.danceusa.org
â€œWe advocate for dance on Capitol Hillâ€, she said.Â â€œWe do research on the industry.Â We track jobs and auditions all across the country.Â Our members are the dance companies, choreographers, and artists that are working in dance todayâ€.