Northeast Times

Phanatic about dancing

The Dance with Celeste per­form­ance squad will shake their groove thing with the Phanat­ic on Aug. 26.

He’s jolly. 

He’s green. 

He’s got some of the best moves in base­ball. 

But on Aug. 26, the Phil­lie Phanat­ic might learn some new moves cour­tesy of the Dance with Celeste per­form­ance team. 

The 23 mem­bers of the loc­al dance squad — ran­ging from 8 to 13 years of age — will strut their stuff at Cit­izens Bank Park, dan­cing on the field with the Phanat­ic. 

“At the end of the fifth in­ning, we go down on the field and he comes out on his quad. It’s really funny,” said Celeste Far­ris Wiss­man, a North­east nat­ive and own­er of the Dance with Celeste dance stu­dio in Ben­s­alem. “The kids are some­times dan­cing and he’s right in their faces. I just tell them to keep dan­cing. He’s really great with the kids. He’s fun and they love it.”

The ap­proach­ing ap­pear­ance will be the third con­sec­ut­ive year that Dance with Celeste’s per­form­ance squad has been in­vited to show­case their moves at Cit­izens Bank Park. Chelsea Moskovitz, who also was on the per­form­ance team last year, is thrilled for a second op­por­tun­ity to hang with her fa­vor­ite mas­cot. 

“I’m ex­cited to dance with the Phanat­ic,” said Moskovitz, 11, who takes jazz, bal­let, tap and pointe classes at Dance with Celeste. “He’s al­ways goofy and it’s fun to be on the field.”

Al­though en­ter­tain­ing with the Phanat­ic is a fa­vor­ite for most of the loc­al ladies on the Dance with Celeste per­form­ance team, their an­nu­al Phil­lies game is just one of many pub­lic ap­pear­ances. 

They reg­u­larly per­form for the Phil­adelphia Wings lacrosse squad, and have also brought their moves to some Trenton Thun­der minor-league base­ball games. 

“I think dan­cing with the Phanat­ic is their fa­vor­ite thing that we get to do,” said Far­ris Wiss­man. “They don’t really get nervous. They love it. You think they would be more nervous be­cause it’s so many people at the Phil­lies, but they don’t. They’re too ex­cited. It’s a lot of fun.” 

While the per­form­ance team is cer­tainly the most com­pet­it­ive of Far­ris Wiss­man’s classes, Dance with Celeste of­fers a smor­gas­bord of dance op­por­tun­it­ies, in­clud­ing bal­let, jazz, tap and hip-hop.

The stu­dio, on Bris­tol Pike in Ben­s­alem, is in its 12th year of busi­ness. It at­trac­ted about 50 stu­dents in its in­aug­ur­al year, but the num­ber of par­ti­cipants has grown to about 170. Two years ago, shortly after cel­eb­rat­ing its 10-year an­niversary, Dance with Celeste ex­pan­ded its build­ing to in­clude an ad­di­tion­al stu­dio. 

“I’ve al­ways wanted to open a dance stu­dio. I love kids and I love dance, so it was the easi­est way to com­bine them,” ex­plained Far­ris Wiss­man. “I al­ways wanted to be a dance teach­er. I danced a lot, but I nev­er wanted to be a pro­fes­sion­al dan­cer. My dream was nev­er to be on Broad­way. My dream was al­ways to open a dance stu­dio and teach.”

Far­ris Wiss­man, who now lives a few blocks from her stu­dio in Ben­s­alem, gradu­ated from Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School in 1995. She earned a bach­el­or of fine arts in dance from Temple Uni­versity four years later. 

Far­ris Wiss­man opened her stu­dio after gradu­ation from col­lege, and at the same time at­ten­ded Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity to study for a mas­ter’s de­gree in edu­ca­tion. She gradu­ated in 2002. 

“I want to teach kids the heart of dance while hav­ing fun,” Far­ris Wiss­man said. “I want them to re­mem­ber their days of dan­cing and hav­ing fun with their friends. I see the kids mak­ing their memor­ies and I see the smiles on their faces. It’s just fun. 

“I want this to be a place where they can come and have fun … and not just fun, but to learn, too,” she ad­ded. “They’re go­ing to learn qual­ity dan­cing.”

Dance with Celeste is open to all ages and skill levels of dance. Some are just a year-and-a-half old — they en­roll in mommy-and-me classes — and oth­er stu­dents are adults en­rolled in Zumba ex­er­cise classes.  

At the mo­ment, Dance with Celeste is in some­what of an off-sea­son. Far­ris Wiss­man said the sum­mer months are a slower time for the stu­dio, with the ex­cep­tion of her per­form­ance team, which com­petes year round. 

“They don’t really have an off-sea­son,” said Far­ris Wiss­man, re­fer­ring to the per­form­ance squad. “There’s a cer­tain amount of classes per week that are man­dat­ory. They have a stand­ard that has to be met. Now, they’re work­ing to­ward an Au­gust per­form­ance for the Phil­lies.”

Those stu­dents who aren’t on the per­form­ance squad usu­ally take time off after the stu­dio’s an­nu­al re­cit­al in June. The event show­cases every stu­dent en­rolled in the stu­dio and takes place at the JCC Klein Branch in Somer­ton. 

“Every year is dif­fer­ent. We learn a new dance,” ex­plained Far­ris Wiss­man. “We’ve been adding new cur­riculum to the routine. This year we’ve ad­ded ‘acro’ (com­bin­ing clas­sic­al dance and ac­ro­bat­ics) and mod­ern and mu­sic­al theat­er.”

Far­ris Wiss­man, who is joined by a team of five oth­er in­struct­ors, said that fall is the busiest sea­son. By Septem­ber, both stu­di­os will be filled with dance stu­dents six days a week. 

“We are al­ways open to new dan­cers,” she said. “We’re go­ing to have a lot more to of­fer. I’m com­fort­able with it now be­cause I know all of the kids who dance here. It’s per­son­al. I would like to keep grow­ing, but also keep that per­son­al touch.”

She and her hus­band Steph­en have two daugh­ters, Celina, 6, and An­gelina, 4 — both of whom reg­u­larly take dance classes with their mom. 

“Since they could walk, they’ve been dan­cing,” Far­ris Wiss­man said with a smile. “I’m so blessed to have daugh­ters who love dance. 

“I’m the hap­pi­est when I’m dan­cing and teach­ing dance,” she con­tin­ued. “It’s al­most in­des­crib­able how it makes me feel. It’s something that I’ve al­ways loved, and it makes me happy.” ••

For more in­form­a­tion, call 215-245-9001 or vis­it www.dance­with­celeste.com

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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