The brainchild of SYTYCD cocreator and Dizzy Feet Foundation copresident Nigel Lythgoe, National Dance Day launched in 2010 as a way to motivate Americans to get up and get active through dance. And this Saturday, July 30, National Dance Day will take over the Miami City Ballet Studios and Collins Park for its Miami Beach debut.
“This is our first time ever hosting the event, and just thinking about [how we’re] bringing the community together and unifying dance, it’s very exciting,” says Herman Payne, a dance instructor at Miami City Ballet and former Michael Jackson backup dancer.
The day will kick off with a mega dance party, where Payne will teach a routine created by SYTYCD dancers specifically for National Dance Day, followed by a flash mob in Collins Park. Catered to dancers and nondancers of all levels and ages, the routine will definitely have participants working up a sweat.
“The National Dance Day foundation came up with this routine,” Payne says. “It’s basically hip-hop. It will get your upper body going. It’s a fun type of energy and will get your heart rate up. Anybody can do it.”
Clips of the flash mob, along with other National Dance Day flash mobs across the country (and even the world), will be recorded and complied into one National Dance Day video, which will showcase routines, Payne says, from “L.A., New York, D.C., [and even] China and Italy. Everyone around the world will be doing the same routine.”
On a more local level, once the National Dance Day flash-mob shenanigans come to an end, Miami City Ballet will carry on the celebration by hosting an open house featuring dancer-led tours of the studios; auditions and sample classes for kids; free dance classes for everyone (including a jazz funk class taught by Payne himself); and a meet-and-greet with the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. And to help participants cool off after that intense dance workout, Vita Coco and the Azucar Ice Cream Company will serve tasty treats.
Much like the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which, along with promoting good health and fighting obesity through dance, works to improve and increase access to dance education, especially among lower-income populations, Miami City Ballet participates in several outreach projects that cater to youth in underserved neighborhoods of Miami. Through programs such as Ballet Bus, a year-round dance scholarship produced in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, kids are provided with transportation to the MCB Studios, dance attire, dance classes, and counseling.
"It actually helps them," Payne says. "It's been proven that dance helps kids focus and gives them the basis of discipline and goals."
And though National Dance Day is about grooves and moves, Payne and Miami City Ballet hope the event also makes a statement.
“We’re really promoting dance,” he says. “We’re getting our community together. We want to let people know that there’s a place in Miami Beach where there is major advocacy for dance and for the arts. We want to try to connect everyone and create a unified energy.”
National Dance Day
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Miami City Ballet, 2200 Liberty Ave., Miami Beach; 305-929-7000; miamicityballet.org. Free and open to the public. For more information about National Dance Day, visit dizzyfeetfoundation.org/national-dance-day.