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So you think you can dance, Alpharetta? Local residents celebrate National Dance Day

Studio 13 Fitness instructors Heidi Panzeca, Kelly Schur and Ally Ponte. Katie Vanbrackle. (click for larger version)
August 01, 2012
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – So you think you can dance? A large crowd of leotard-clad Northside residents were eager to give it a try on Saturday morning, July 28, as they packed the event lawn at Wills Park in Alpharetta to celebrate National Dance Day. The national celebration was created by Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of the hit "So You Think You Can Dance" television show.

Ally Ponte, a popular local dance instructor and co-founder of Studio 13 Fitness, led the group in two official National Dance Day routines – one featuring hip-hop and the other showcasing Zumba's Latin dance moves, a fitness trend that continues to grow in popularity.

Curious onlookers leading their pooches to Waggy World on the Wills Park trails were challenged to join in.

"If you're walking your dog today, I want to see you dancing, too. It's National Dance Day," Ponte called.

Longtime dancer Lisa Ashby of East Cobb joined Zumba “newbie” Evelyn Petersen of Alpharetta. Katie Vanbrackle. (click for larger version)
This was definitely not the day for a quiet walk in the park.

Two deejays kept the hip-hop tunes blasting as the large crowd of dancers whooped and cheered, filling the park with energy and giving all passersby a little extra spring in their step.

"Can you shake your hips too much? No, you can't," shouted Ponte as the enthusiastic dancers roared in response.

On the front row, Lisa Ashby raised her arms over her head and grinned ear-to-ear as she danced to "Crazy Love," a heart-thumping Zumba Fitness tune.

April Brown and daughter Zahria Matthews of Roswell danced to a Zumbatomic routine for kids. Katie Vanbrackle. (click for larger version)
"I love the way dancing makes me feel," said the East Cobb mom who has been doing Zumba for five years. "The music, the energy, the diversity. Each instructor has a different style."

"Ally has a big following," said Pam Heydinger of Alpharetta. "I've been taking her classes for four years, and I look forward to it every week. I'm depressed if I have to miss."

April Brown of Roswell danced alongside 2-year-old daughter Zahria, both decked out in colorful dance fashions.

"Zahria loves to dance at home and I want her to be comfortable dancing around other people as well," said Brown.

From left, Valerie Curry of Cumming and Marcel Smith, Heather Schreiber and Ginny Schreiber of Alpharetta. Katie Vanbrackle. (click for larger version)
Evelyn Petersen of Alpharetta came to the dance event not knowing that it would be Zumba, but she was willing to give it a try.

Peterson was not the only "newbie."

The crowd of dancers was a blend of young and old, men and women, seasoned dancers and novices, which thrilled Ponte.

"This is what National Dance Day is all about," she said. "Bringing people together to celebrate movement and dance."

Those who missed the Wills Park event can have their own National Dance Day experience at home. Instructional videos for the hip-hop and Zumba routines can be viewed at

Friday, Aug. 24, Studio 13 will host a "Booty Ball in the 'Burbs" Zumba Club Vibe event at Brindavan Banquet Hall on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. Go to for details.

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