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Emily Sachs Dance benefit Credit: Zoe Gan , Zoe Gan

Cheers and catcalls erupted from the audience as PENNaach dancers assumed position on stage. Foot-tapping notes and pounding Bollywood beats kicked off Saturday night’s annual Emily Sachs Dance Benefit.

Organized by the Dance Arts Council, the benefit paid tribute to Emily Sachs, who died in 1995 from a severe asthma attack. The accomplished dancer — she won the Miss Dance Pennsylvania and Miss Teen Dance New York City titles — would have been in a 1998 College graduate.

Since then, the benefit has been raising funds for different charities every year in her memory. This year’s proceeds went to the American Asthma Foundation and Hope Dances, a local dance outreach organization for special needs children.

Ten out of the 12 dance groups on campus showcased a diverse range of dances this year from swing and salsa to tap dancing.

“It’s so great to see the groups come together and learn more about one another through this event,” College junior and event co-chair Bhargavi Ammu said. She said the groups normally do not get the opportunity to work together because they each have separate performance schedules during the year.

Ammu, who is also a PENNaach performer, said that proceeds from the benefit surpassed the previous year’s by 55 percent. Over 180 people attended on Friday night and about 150 went on Saturday.

“Feel free to make as much noise as possible in support of the dance groups,” the emcee, Wharton and Engineering sophomore Ankur Goyal, encouraged. Goyal, the second of three event chairs, also performed with the all-male South Asian fusion dance troupe, Penn Dhamaka.

The audience did not disappoint, cheering for dancers and dance groups throughout the night. Penn Dhamaka and Strictly Funk, a hip-hop and funk fusion group, proved to be crowd favorites. Deafening cheers continued throughout their high-energy performances. Their dances balanced nicely with the more subtle, fluid movements of Sparks Dance and Arts House Dance Company’s jazz and contemporary pieces and the poignant, doomed love story the Pan-Asian Dance Troupe portrayed in their act.

Emily’s teenage sister, Sara, surprised the audience when paid her own tribute on stage, an act unlisted in the playbill. “I … was excited to see Emily Sach’s little sister give a solo performance,” said College junior Mallika Vinekar. “She was amazing.” An accomplished dancer herself, Sara has 13 years of experience and numerous competitions under her belt.

The emcees thanked the Sachs family, who attended the event, for their continual support of Penn’s dance community.

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