John Gray, local choreographer, is holding a rehearsal Sunday for a dance to be performed at the National Dance Day event 7-9 p.m., July 26, at the Riverfront Pavillion. RECORD PHOTO: Mike Louviere

Let’s Dance! National Dance Day celebration to be held in Orange

What’s Happening Orange County? Dancing, that’s what. On Saturday, July 26, Orange will join the ranks of cities around the country hosting events for National Dance Day. It will be held 7-9 p.m. at the Riverfront Pavillion in downtown Orange on 5th Street and Division Avenue next to the courthouse annex building.

Launched in 2010 by “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe, National Dance Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the last Saturday in July.

“This grassroots campaign encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health and fight obesity,” states the Dizzy Feet Foundation’s Web site.

Each year there are major events held in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., with smaller events held in communities around the country.

This year, Orange will be added to that list.

Penny LeLeux was watching SYTYCD Wednesday night when they announced this year’s event. LeLeux has worked at The Record Newspapers for eight years and recently started What’s Happening Orange County? a few months ago. It’s a Web site that promotes the fun aspects of Orange County while publicizing area events, fundraisers and benefits on a centralized calendar.

Every year when she saw publicity on National Dance Day, she kept thinking, “They should do something here.”

This year, instead of just thinking, she did something about it.

Thursday, she met with Taylor Warner of the Orange Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and told her what she wanted to do. Warner had never heard of National Dance Day.

“I’ve never been into dance, I’ve always been more into athletics,” she said.

After checking out past events on YouTube, Warner thought the idea was interesting, but had to get it approved by supervisory City  officials.

Of course, Friday was the 4th of July and a holiday weekend, so approval had to wait until Monday.

After a long discussion between Warner and Trahan Monday afternoon, Warner informed LeLeux that the event was a go provided she got the commitment from two dance groups agreeing to participate.

Not a problem. Before midnight, LeLeux had commitments from three with promising possible commitments from several others.

John Gray, a local choreographer and dance teacher has already set a rehearsal for Sunday for a dance he recently choreographed. It will be held 2-4 p.m. at First Methodist Church in Orange. “It is fun, energy filled, shake a tail feather kinda number,” said Gray.  He has invited all of his dance friends that want to learn his “Land of a Thousand Dances” routine for the event to attend. “Let’s make this number a production that our town will be buzzing about for years to come,” he said.

Gray told LeLeux that Studio C had also committed to participate.

About an hour or so later she heard from Chris Kovatch of the Thayer Dance Academy. They would be happy to participate and offered any assistance possible. “We’re excited about it,” he told LeLeux.

She has also heard from the sponsor of the Sophisticats, Jillian Morris.

The event won’t only be performances from dance teams. There are two NDD choreographed routines people can learn from YouTube videos to be performed by everyone that day, a beginner and an advanced routine. The beginner routine even has an adapted tutorial that can be done from a chair for those confined to such, or just don’t have the physical capability to do the full blown dance, so it truly is for everyone.

The videos can be found at or LeLeux has them embedded in the story on her Web site for easy access at

Learn the dances and come perform them with other Orange Countians on July 26.

Since it is on a short time line, the city wants to keep this year’s event as simple as possible, so people are welcome to bring their coolers with snacks and drinks, said Warner, but no glass containers. No dogs, no pets will be permitted either.

“I am on such a high,” said LeLeux. “It’s amazing how fast this is all falling into place. I just thought of this late Wednesday night and started putting things into motion Thursday. Sometimes you just have to take that first step.”

For more information call LeLeux at 409-728-5970 or Warner at the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau. Event updates will be posted through The Record, on or on the What’s Happening Orange County? Facebook page. To participate, just show up, no reservation required.