Let's Dance with the CPA

If you find yourself in Happy Valley on September 28, clear your calendar and write this down:

Let’s Dance @ Ford Building Lawn, 4–5 p.m.

Did you write that down? Good. Now I can tell you what you are going to be doing!

Let’s Dance is a free movement workshop for all ages. Hosted by Penn State’s Center for Performing Arts in partnership with the College of Health and Human Development and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, this fun event brings the community together through song and dance.

Medora Ebersole, education and community programs manager at the CPA, first concocted this workshop in 2016, and she has been organizing it successfully every year since.

“I was really interested in the idea of adaptive dance,” said Ebersole. “I just started thinking, dance is for everyone.”

Curious to learn more, she asked a colleague if any kinesiology professor had experience with this kind of movement. Turns out, neuroscience professor Krista Wilkinson was co-director of a performing arts troupe, For Good.

The For Good Troupe offers an opportunity for people with Down syndrome to participate in musical theatre and other performance activities. The troupe is always looking for performance opportunities, so Ebersole and Wilkinson decided the Let’s Dance event would be the perfect stage.

Even with For Good on board, Ebersole was still missing one thing, and that’s when Michele Dunleavy, professor of dance, came into the picture. It was decided: For Good Troupe would perform then Dunleavy would teach the audience fun choreography, no dancing experience required.

“This is a really family-friendly, fun, active event,” Ebersole said. “It's free, it's for all ages and it's an opportunity to do what you normally see on the stage. Let's Dance gives the opportunity for everyone to learn together sequences of steps and movements in songs from well-known musicals. This year, it's Peter Pan!”

From toddlers and teenagers, to adults and seniors, everyone is invited to come together to dance and enjoy this moment together. Did I mention that Alliance for Heroic Hearts—the Penn State club where members dress up as superheroes—will be there as well?

In addition to bringing the community together, Let’s Dance is the perfect place for the CPA to announce its upcoming season.

“This year there are seven family performances that we are shouting out,” said Ebersole. These performances include Finding Neverland; Cirque Éloize Hotel; Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly; Soweto Gospel Choir, Songs of the Free, a special program celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela; Me…Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall; The King and I; and Night Train 57. To learn more about these performances, click here.

“I do hope that everyone involved will enjoy themselves,” said Dunleavy. “The workshop is not as much about ‘learning’ to dance as it is about experiencing movement, music and community.”

“I expect that, as ever, everyone will have a fantastic time—the community members in the audience, the students from the various Penn State clubs and the performers from For Good,” said Wilkinson. “This is a terrific community event that invites everyone and anyone who likes to dance, meet people and have a good time.”

Let’s Dance is a stellar representation on what the CPA hopes to achieve through its performance seasons. The arts really are for everyone, so why not take the time to participate in the musical fun?

If you haven’t already put it together, the Let’s Dance workshop is actually the day before Penn State Football’s biggest game of the season—the Whiteout against Ohio State. Since you'll already be in the area, take a break from your tailgate and the hustle bustle of College Avenue and venture to the northern edge of campus for a fun, freeing hour of song and dance.

Ultimately, Ebersole hopes Let’s Dance teaches attendees the power of performance, creates moments of social awareness and advocates that the arts strengthen communities.

Look at your calendar again. Are you happy you wrote this event down? Or, did I convince you to actually write it down? Regardless, this fun, family-friendly dance party is something you do not want to miss. Here is the information one more time, just so you can have a detailed calendar entry!

Let’s Dance Free Movement Workshop

Friday September 28

4–5 p.m.

Ford Building Lawn (Corner of Allen Street and Park Avenue)

It’s events like these that, in my opinion, make Happy Valley a little bit happier. No matter who you are, where you are from or what you do, the arts should always have a place in your life. Allow Let’s Dance to show you why!

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