Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dani Kagan: Summer in the Distillery

It’s finally summer!!! That means we can finally capture that summer street fashion that you’ve been waiting for. And to kick things off this season, dancer/choreographer Dani Kagan shows off some of her summer street style at one of our favourite places -- The Distillery.

Kagan (23) is the co-founder of Raise the Rhythm, a non-profit event that showcases dance, fashion and art -- all in the name of charity. “I started the fundraiser with my friends, Victoria Marshman and Jessica Domingo, because I wanted to give back to the community,” she says. Last year’s show was held at the Isabel Bader Theatre and featured many dance talents, including So You Think You Can Dance Canada’s Jordan Clark. The sold out event raised nearly $10,000 for Autism Speaks Canada.

This year’s charity is the Panov Program: Precision Chemotherapy. Precision Chemotherapy is an innovative cancer treatment that enables doctors to personalize each patient’s delivery of chemotherapy, which could greatly increase their odds of survival. The Panov Program is named after Yaron Panov, who was diagnosed with abdominal Sarcoma in 2010. At the age of 55, he was given only a few months to live, but with the help of his wife, Dr. Rochelle Schwartz, he began this new personalized cancer treatment that was developed in Baltimore and Israel. It saved his life. Now Mount Sinai Hospital wants to bring Precision Chemotherapy to Canada to treat Sarcoma cancer patients, and they hope that the Panov Program will raise awareness and funds to make that a reality.

So what is Raise the Rhythm's personal connection to the Panov Program? Yaron Panov is Kagan’s uncle. "This year, I have set even higher fundraising goals," she explains. "[Precision Chemotherapy] saved my uncle's life and I want other Canadians to benefit from the same treatment."

Kagan was one of Hedley’s back-up dancers at last week’s Much Music Video Awards and soon will be dancing on Billy Blank Jr’s (son of famed martial-artist Billy Blanks) workout DVD. And if you’re a Raptors fan, you’ve likely seen her dancing on the court as one of the Raptors Dance Pak. Needless to say, dance is in her blood. She says, “I never thought dance would be the be-all and end-all in my life. I always thought I’d be event-planning or teaching choreography, but there’s something about dance. It’s my passion. It’s a way to express myself while keeping in shape -- a lot better than just running on a treadmill at the gym.”

When she’s not performing, Kagan manages LR Productions -- a dance company that signs dancers for various events and teaches competitive dance to children at the All That Dance studio. “My favourite genres of dance are jazz, contemporary and hip hop. I just love high energy.”

With all that intense dancing, Kagan has had her fair share of injuries over the past few years: “I broke my ankle a couple of times and the same toe twice and, as I get older, I'm beginning to feel it in my back (laughs).” Hopefully this summer will be kinder to the philanthropic dancer.

Raise the Rhythm will be held at the Danforth Music Hall on October 1st, 2014.

To donate to the Panov Program, please click here.

Interested in volunteering or performing at this year’s Raise the Rhythm? Apply here.

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Follow Dani Kagan on Twitter & Instagram

Follow Raise the Rhythm on Twitter & Instagram

Follow LR Productions on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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