The sights and sounds of thundering hoofers will inaugurate L.A.’s newest green space on Saturday as the Dizzy Feet Foundation hosts its National Dance Day festivities in conjunction with the opening of downtown’s Grand Park.
“My goal is to get people on their feet, as much for health reasons as much as for artistic reasons,” says producer Nigel Lythgoe, a founder of Dizzy Feet and the driving force behind National Dance Day. “We’ve become so sedentary in our ways. I think if people start dancing for fun, they’ll realize they enjoy it and it’ll do even more for their health.”
Lythgoe and Dizzy Feet have promoted National Dance Day largely through the platform provided by Lythgoe’s Fox reality series “So You Think You Can Dance.” Participants in the Grand Park event will perform two dance routines promoted on the show and through Internet vids — one crafted by “SYTYCD” choreographers and the other by the Zumba Fitness chain.
“SYTYCD” judge Mary Murphy will also be on hand to offer free ballroom dance lessons, and Debbie Allen will be there with members of her dance academy, along with numerous many other notables. Lythgoe expects the event to draw more than 1,000 people, based on the turnout for past events in L.A. and D.C., which will host a National Dance Day celebration on the National Mall.
Saturday’s gathering marks the coming out party for the first two blocks of Grand Park, which will eventually stretch across four blocks between the Music Center and the eastern edge of City Hall. The day’s sked includes include Lythgoe unveiling the U.S. Postal Service’s stamp series honoring famed choreographers including Isadora Duncan and Bob Fosse.
Dizzy Feet will cap the day with a dance-packed fundraising gala honoring Shirley Mac-Laine and others at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It’s expected to bring in about $500,000 for the org’s scholarship and dance-education outreach efforts. Among Dizzy Feet’s recent initiatives was the donation of 200 pairs of tap shoes to a dance school in New Orleans.
Lythgoe launched Dizzy Feet with fellow dance mavens Adam Shankman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Katie Holmes in 2009. It was the audition process on “SYTYCD” that made him realize how much raw talent was out there in need of scholarships and other support to turn a passion for dance into a potential career.
“We could see how many brilliant kids there were who just need some help,” Lythgoe says. “With our little program we try to do as much as we can do.” Do Good