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Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Fundraiser combines a passion for dance & fashion

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Danielle Kagan [Lindsay Nemeth photos]

The adage “busy people get things done” certainly applies to Danielle Kagan.

The University of Toronto student is a double major in political science and Jewish studies, she’s a tap and jazz dance instructor at two dance studios, she leads a Zumba class at a Curves fitness centre and she’s also co-captain of U of T’s Varsity Blues dance team.

But Kagan, 21, is not satisfied to rest on her laurels. She’s added a new project to her list.

She’s co-chairing Raise the Rhythm, a fundraiser encompassing a fashion show and contemporary dance in support of Canadian Feed the Children, a non-profit organization that works to end child poverty in Canada and in the third world.

The event, on Feb. 27 at the Al Green Theatre at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, will feature performances by some innovative local dance troops and “top young designers,” said Kagan.

Raise the Rhythm will combine fashion and dance, two of Kagan’s passions.

“It takes in everything that I love. I love fashion. I keep up-to-date with all the new designers, and I’m really involved in the dance world.”

She’s been dancing since she was five years old. After graduating from the dance school All That Dance at 16, she joined Vlad’s Dance Company until she graduated high school.

After spending a year as a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Kagan transferred to U of T, where she was able to continue honing her skills as a dancer on the Varsity Blues dance team.

“Now, me and my dance co-captain, Victoria Marshman, are running the [Raise the Rhythm] show,” she said.

“We’re choreographing all the numbers ourselves. It’s gives us a lot of creativity… It’s an artistic outlet from studying.”

Kagan said she comes to this event with experience she gained chairing a dance and fashion show when she was a student at the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT), Richmond Hill campus.

“It was really fun. I wanted to do the same thing again, but on a bigger and more professional scale.”

So what’s Kagan’s secret for integrating this fundraising activity with her work, dance and academic responsibilities?

She says attending CHAT and dealing with the double curriculum has helped her develop excellent time-management skills. 

“I’m using those skills now. Somehow, I manage to balance it all.”

Choosing a beneficiary for this charitable event was a no-brainer, because Kagan’s family has been supporting Canadian Feed the Children for a number of years.

“The charity does a lot of good work on different projects in Africa and Haiti. They are also providing whole food to needy children in Canada.”

In fact, raising money for the organization may be becoming a family tradition, she said.

“My cousin, Elan Panov, did some terrific charity events for Canadian Feed the Children, when he was at Western [University]. I loved what they did.”

Kagan says she’s co-producing the show with Marshman, and Jessica Domingo.

“We brainstormed to decide what we wanted for the show…  We said, ‘We’re all dancers. Let’s throw in some professional Toronto-based dance companies.’”

Eryn Waltman, a Toronto-based choreographer who recently founded a contemporary dance company, will be performing, said Kagan.

“She has her own dance company called Conteur. I saw her show at a charity event. She’s wonderful.”

Also featured are “Canada’s legendary beatboxer,” Scott Jackson, and choreographers from a contemporary dance program called Bridge to Artists.

The audience can also expect a performance from Kagan’s Varsity Blues dance team.

For the fashionistas in the crowd, local fashion designers, including Arnaldo Santos, Sheila Jobin, VerseTen, and Michelle Walmsley, will put their mark on the show.

“Arnaldo is a good friend of mine,” said Kagan. “I modelled at his last charity event. He got me in contact with a lot of other up-and-coming Canadian fashion designers.”

She says she’s pleased with the calibre of the artists and designers who are volunteering their time.

“If people know dance and fashion in the Toronto community, these are names that you will recognize.”

Kagan is already musing about making Raise the Rhythm an annual event.

“I hope that it’s successful so that we can do it every year. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worthwhile.”

Tickets for Raise the Rhythm are  $25 for adults and $15 for students. For more information about the show, call 647-299-7765 or visit the website at www.raisetherhythm.com.

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