Ask them why they do it. Why they risk strained muscles and sore feet pounding the floors in the Cangelosi Dance Project studios at odd hours in the middle of the mad rush of the holiday season.

Most aren't dancers, and many have no dance experience at all.

"I've learned that when Kris (Cangelosi) asks you to do something, you do it," says Chad Kenney-Possa. "And here we are."

And, it's all for a good cause — or make that causes.

Kenney-Possa is one of 35 in the cast who will be dancing in the Cangelosi Dance Project Community Leaders Performance on Dec. 22 in the Manship Theatre. The company's dancers and students will perform in a different show, Holiday Mix, on Dec. 23.

The Community Leaders show is something a little different.

Cangelosi called on doctors, nurses, lawyers, media types and local celebrities to be part of the fundraiser, which assists various nonprofit programs in education, disabilities, cancer awareness, performing arts outreach and other causes.

She did a show in August, and the great response called for an encore.

"It was so successful, and everyone asked when we were going to do it again," she says. "I'd like to make the Christmas show an annual event. We'll see what happens with this show."

Rehearsal is what's happening now, two weeks before the curtain opens. It's a Saturday morning, but the dancers can also be found in the studio all hours of the day.

"They come in at lunch, early in the morning and in the evenings to rehearse," Cangelosi says. "They're really giving it their all."

Kenney-Possa, a nurse, sees the production as an opportunity to work together.

"We're from different backgrounds, and we're all coming together to make this work," he says. "And we're having fun doing it. This is a great way to show the children in the community that we can come together, get something done and have fun."

"We have a love of community," adds cast member Kathy Victorian, an outreach manager for Amerigroup, which offers health care services. "Dance brings us together."

The show will include solo, duet, trio and group performances to holiday favorites. Cangelosi has choreographed 10 out of the 17 dances, with guest choreographers Leonard Augustus, Jerisse Grantham, Le'Brian Patrick, Adrianna Virgillio, River Peterson, Vanda Refermat and Van Vo creating the others.

Cangelosi also joined forces with Wendy Lipsey in choreographing a piece to "Rise," which tells the story of Lipsey's near-death experience.

"This dance is amazing; it will bring you to tears," Cangelosi says.

And the finale surely will have the audience on its feet.

"Everyone is rejoicing in the finale," Cangelosi says. "It's about making new friends and being reunited with old friends, and it's about the spirit of the season. We end it on a happy note for everyone."  


Cangelosi Dance Project shows

WHAT: Cangelosi Dance Project Community Leaders Performance

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22

WHERE: Manship Theatre in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette St.

TICKETS/INFO: $40-$60, (225) 344-0334 or manshiptheatre.org

ALSO: Cangelosi Dance Project's Holiday Mix, featuring dance company members and students, is at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, also at the Manship Theatre. Tickets are $15-$22.

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.