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