ACT presents Little Shop of Horrors

Doo Wop girls with the bigger “Audrey 2” in Ahwatukee Children's Theatre's production of "Little Shop of Horrors."

Submitted photo

On July 27, Ahwatukee Children’s Theater (ACT) will host National Dance Day, a grassroots initiative that encourages individuals, families, organizations and communities from across the nation to get up and move through dance. 

National Dance Day takes place annually on the last Saturday in July and was created by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer and co-creator of the FOX show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” and founder of the Dizzy Feet Foundation. The day was recognized with an official Act of Congress in 2010. District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a life-long proponent of healthy lifestyles, introduced Lythgoe’s idea at a press conference in Washington, D.C., as a resolution aimed at promoting dance education and physical fitness across the entire nation. 

“National Dance Day does not ‘belong’ to any single corporation, television show or charity,” said Lythgoe. “It belongs to the people. It will be up to the individuals, corporations and charities of this country to come up with ways to take part — wherever they may be and whatever their motivation: whether it’s to lose weight, raise money for a nonprofit or just have fun.” 

Laurie Nathanson, a well-known Valley laugh club owner and yoga instructor from Ahwatukee, is the person in charge of getting the people of Arizona off their couches each year to take part in National Dance Day. Nathanson does it because it stirs up fond memories of her mother, who loved “So You Think You Can Dance.”

The event will at ACT, 5051 E. Elliot Road, from 10 to 11 a.m.

“ACT is a non-profit and they do amazing things for children and the community. They were kind enough to let me use their facility at no charge, and what a perfect place to promote family, fun and fitness,” said Nathanson about why she chose to host her event at the local theater.

According to Nathanson, anyone can participate but must first learn the “everybody dance routine” found at Otherwise, participants should just show up to ACT on the day of the event. Nathanson has no idea how many people will show up, but admitted “guilting” all of her friends into going because it is her birthday. 

Nathanson is perfect for this task because she is no stranger to a healthy lifestyle and the well-being of others. As a certified laughter practitioner, Nathanson is the founder of Laurie’s Laughoholic Club and instructor of Laughter Yoga.

The concept of “laugh clubs” began in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India. Today, Laughter Yoga International and Laughter Clubs can be found in more than 72 countries. Laughter Yoga is based on scientific studies that prove laughter lowers the level of stress hormones in the blood, fostering a positive attitude and decreased feelings of depression and helplessness. More information can be found at

“I teach the healing power that laughter provides for our well being,” said Nathanson, who works with the city of Phoenix senior centers and CareMore Healthcare. Her yoga classes include basic stretching and breathing exercises, along with silly improvisations, rhythmic clapping and lots of laughter.

“We are exercising from the inside out, which I call ‘internal jogging,’” added Nathanson. According to her website, laughter is the easiest and most natural form of holistic health, reducing stress, lifting moods and adding years to a lifespan.

To learn more about Ahwatukee’s National Dance Day and Nathanson’s laughter yoga, visit To learn more about ACT and upcoming events, visit

• Jeremy Bush is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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