Shut Up & Dance – Interview with Ian Hussey, Producing Director


MANNA: Why Victoriana as a theme?

Ian: Coming up with a theme for the poster if one of my FAVORITE parts of the process. The process starts with a few brainstorming sessions with photographer Brett Thomas, designer Matt Bouloutain of Modern Good, MANNA’s event manager and myself. Brett and Matt are incredibly talented artists and we are so luck to have them. This year’s theme of a singular female in a Victorian style dress came from me but wasn’t even an idea that I had thought of before the meeting. I threw the idea out there and everyone loved it. I could not be more excited about the image we finished with. Kelsey looks so beautiful…an incredible shot by Brett and with Matt’s magic – we created a unique eye catching design.

MANNA: What other elements (themes) will  be presented during the show?

Ian: I can’t really speak on the pieces yet since they are not complete. That is the exciting thing about Shut Up & Dance – there is always a certain amount of the unknown going into the show. As the director, I do not censor any artist or tell someone they have to choreograph a certain kind of piece. I let the dancers express themselves any way they feel and because of that, I often don’t know what the show is really going to look like as a whole until the week of the show.

MANNA: When people leave the show on March 22, what feeling do you want them to take away with them?

Ian: I want the audience to have fun more than anything. There are many emotions in watching Shut Up & Dance every year because of the time we take to reflect on the serious nature of MANNA’s mission. Shut Up & Dance is aimed to uplift and garner hope for a greater future for MANNA and their clients. We aim to inspire continuous support for MANNA and hopefully to return next year with more friends and family spreading the love of this one of a kind show.

MANNA: How many years have  you been involved with Shut Up & Dance?

Ian: This is my 10th Shut Up & Dance that I have  been a part of and my 3rd year as the Producing Director.

MANNA: With every year that passes, what keeps you coming back for more?

Ian: I keep returning to Shut Up & Dance for many reasons but mainly for the impact it has on MANNA. The service that MANNA provides for the community is so incredibly important and it is an honor for the dancers and myself to put this show on every year to help MANNA accomplish their mission.

MANNA: For those who never been to Shut Up & Dance before but have been to a ballet production — how is Shut Up & Dance different?

Ian: Shut Up & Dance is such an unique experience. Many of our shows with Pennsylvania Ballet are either a full length story ballet or consists of 3 pieces in a night. With Shut Up & Dance, you will see upwards of 12 different pieces of shorter length but brought to you by the enthusiastic minds of the dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet. You will see serious ambitious pieces mixed with more light hearted comedic fare. The energy of this night every year…is infectious!

MANNA: Last year, you did not dance in the performance…can we look forward to you dancing this year?

Ian: Yes, you can look forward to me returning to the stage dancing…

Check out Ian, the Dancers of Pennsylvania Ballet and the magic on March 22nd  at the Forrest Theatre – get  your tickets at

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month


When Valarie Maddox was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, her two young daughters needed MANNA’s support as well.  Valarie avowed, “The meals are great because I am a single mother and I live with my two daughters.  To see the strain on my daughters and their worry because I was always the cook in my house, the MANNA meals helped to take the pressure off of them knowing I was taken care of.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the incidence continues to rise steadily with over 1 million new cases and almost half a million deaths annually.  Currently the direct cause of breast cancer is not known; education, awareness and early detection remain as the key components to combating this disease.  October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when people across the world increase awareness of the disease and fundraise to support research in search of a cure.

In 2007 MANNA partnered with the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia organization to provide medically-appropriate meals to hundreds of women and families battling breast cancer.  This partnership ensured access to nutritious meals early in their treatment, increasing their chances of survival.  Since 2007, MANNA has nourished back to health over 500 individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.

“MANNA has helped me so much with their meal program.  When I was too tired to cook I was able to heat up a meal which helped me a lot.  I felt like if I didn’t have MANNA, my nutrition would not have been as good,” MANNA client Chanel Royster noted.

Charlene Callicut, a current MANNA client agreed, “MANNA has provided me a lot of support since day one.  It really helped me with my eating and providing me with nutritious food.  The type of food that they are sending me is good food, and it tastes good too.”

For more information on ways that you can become involved with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, go to

First Annual #MANNAGuac-off


On Sunday, June 23, 2013 – we held our very first Guac-off at Fleisher Art Memorial! What started out as an idea from the MANNA Young Friends Committee, turned into a full out event with 12 competitors including Mission Grill, Jose Pistola’s, Philly food truck Guerrilla Ultima and 8 year old superstar Alison Flam. All 12 competitors were tasked with the duty of preparing their signature guacamole recipe and to provide enough samples to feed 130 attendees.

When 6’2 host, Brittany Lynn – don/mother of the Drag Mafia walked into the venue, participants knew they were not only in for some good guacamole tasting but in for some entertainment as well! Outside of Brittany’s witty humor, attendees enjoyed chips, salsa, beverages, music and of course…guacamole!

MANNA’s Executive Chef, Keith Lucas and freelance writer and food enthusiastic, Drew Lazor had the tough job of judging all of the guacamole recipes (rough…right?) through a blind tasting and crowning the grand prize winner.

In the end, Guerrilla Ultima took home first place as Grand Prize winner and walked away with the Guac-off trophy as well as staycation package for 2 night stay at Embassy Suites Philadelphia including  breakfast and cocktail receptions and 2 passes to the Academy of Natural Science . The People’s Choice Award went to Adan Trinidad from Jose Pistola’s who gave his prize ($250 US Airways gift card) to 8 year old competitor Alison Flam- what a gentlemen!

MANNA raised over $3,500 enabling MANNA to provide 972 nourishing meals. To see photos from the event, check out our Facebook album.