The event, which started in 1993, will kick off at 8 p.m. March 23 at Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St.
According to MANNA events manager Rob Nonemacker, the show last year raised $150,000 and brought in more than 1,600 people.
Nonemacker said organizers are anticipating even higher attendance and fundraising levels at the upcoming “Shut Up & Dance” but also an increased awareness for the work that MANNA does.
“We have been around for more than 23 years and I want to bring awareness to what we do and how important our program is to the area,” he said.
MANNA provides nutritional meals to people facing life-threatening illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, throughout the region.
While the event is centered on serious issues, Nonemacker said it also pays tribute to MANNA’s life-saving legacy.
“I want everyone to have fun. What we do is very serious, but we should also take the time out to celebrate the lives we have helped save and remember those we have lost,” he said.
Nonemacker commended the PA Ballet performers for their longstanding commitment to the event.
“Two amazing nonprofits have come together for this one-night-only performance, which is really an iconic performance in Philadelphia: No one else does an event like this in the city. The Pennsylvania Ballet dancers really put their careers on the line for us.”
For out production director and PA Ballet cast member Ian Hussey, “Shut Up & Dance” has been a commitment he has been passionate about for years.
“When I first joined the company in 2004, ‘Shut Up & Dance’ was already established and it was something all company members were passionate about. I was excited to be a part of it and I am from the area, so I knew about it and it was a cool opportunity,” he said.
The Westmont, N.J., native started out as a dancer and choreographer before moving up to production manager. He is now in his second year as production director.
“After the first year, I fell in love with it and MANNA’s mission,” he said. “The first time I performed, it was the most fun night I had. And after a couple years of dancing and choreographing, I became more interested and involved. It is such a powerful event, and it is awesome that we do this every year in benefit for a company that is so special.”
Hussey said the new position has been a challenging but also a rewarding experience.
“It is a fun job and a lot of work and contacting people, but I really enjoy doing it and last year we raised more money,” he said.
Hussey said “Shut Up & Dance” always presents unique and entertaining dances.
“So many of the pieces are done during our free time, so the week before is when you start getting a feel on what you have. I think it will be really fun,” he said. “You will see a lot of funny stuff and comedy routines and contemporary dance pieces. We usually try and have an eclectic and diverse group of pieces.”
Like Nonemacker, Hussey said he hopes the event highlights MANNA’s work.
“The main thing I hope the audience learns it how important MANNA is to our community and how special they are with the work they do for our neighbors.”
Tickets range from $25-$100 and can be purchased at www.mannapa.org/dance.