Dance for the Masses

November 30, 2009




Everyone should have access to dance. And now, thanks to a few familiar faces, that just might happen. This year, Nigel Lythgoe, Carrie Ann Inaba, Adam Shankman and Katie Holmes teamed up to create the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which will celebrate its inception by awarding scholarships to 10 dancers from the Alvin Ailey school, the Juilliard School, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Mary Murphy’s Champion Ballroom Academy and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. With A-list celebrity supporters like Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez and Miley Cyrus, there’s no doubt the Dizzy Feet Foundation will be making its mark on the dance world very soon. DS chatted with “Dancing with the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba about her involvement with DFF and where the foundation hopes to go from here. —Alison Feller


Dance Spirit:
How was the Dizzy Feet Foundation born?


Carrie Ann Inaba:
Nigel Lythgoe approached Adam Shankman, Katie Holmes and me with the idea. We all brainstormed about what we wanted to accomplish and how to make it happen. There’s such incredible energy behind the idea. We all have specific ways we want to help the dance community, and there is an undeniable passion between us. The whole process has been very quick, but when you get a few Type-A personalities together and mix them with the passion of the dancer breed, you make fire.


: What are the foundation’s long-term goals?


We are currently selecting the 10 dancers who will receive scholarships from DFF this year. Next, we are looking to fill the void that’s developed since we are losing arts education in our school systems. We want to go into communities of all economic backgrounds and help create dance programs and expose people to dance, especially in areas where they may not be granted access otherwise. We’re hoping to partner with other community organizations to make this successful. Lastly, we want to set up an accreditation program for dance schools and studios in the U.S., so when a dancer goes to take a class, she’ll know that she’s getting a certain level of quality. We’re not trying to standardize dance, just to help to assure good teaching continues and poor teaching is improved. Finally, we will be working to help dancers transition into the next phase of their careers as choreographers, producers or directors.


: How do you make time in your busy career for Dizzy Feet?


Busy is right! Dance gave me the strength, the artistry and the work ethic to make my dreams come true. I get to live dance in so many ways. But what makes everything worthwhile is Dizzy Feet. It has made everything feel right. I can enjoy where I’m at because I’m doing what is most important, and that is giving back to my community. On top of that, I can do it with people I love and respect. Not a day goes by where we’re not in communication about DF. In fact, Adam and I take a dance class together and we’re always talking about new opportunities and new goals for DF!


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Photo by Guiliano Bekor, courtesy Sandra Colton