Bust a Move: Ben Platt, Debbie Allen, Kathryn Gallagher and More Host Instagram Dance Parties for "Moments of Unity"

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Ben Platt, Kathryn Gallagher, Debbie Allen

While the world is self-distancing to combat spread of the novel coronavirus, Hollywood is coming together online to host dance classes and parties, raising money for charities and to "maintain a sense of normalcy and happiness," says 'Jagged Little Pill' star Kathryn Gallagher.

In the words of Legally Blonde's Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." During a time of social distancing and in light of new executive orders in Los Angeles to stay "Safer at Home" and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issuing the "New York state on pause" directive, stars are using their social media platforms to foster community during this difficult time — by busting a move.

After learning March 12 that performances of her Broadway show Jagged Little Pill would be suspended, Kathryn Gallagher found a creative outlet through writing and recording in her home studio demo'ing songs. She, Noah Galvin (Booksmart) and Ben Platt (The Politician), who have known each other for years, also brainstormed another way to shake out their anxieties — via a dance party, aptly coined #QuaranTunes.

"We were sitting around the dinner table and I, naturally, brought up Gilmore Girls and how they do a danceathon. Like, wouldn't it be cool if we did that on the Internet to raise money?" the You actress tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Our natural response to anxiety or joy or really any emotion is to dance it out, so it felt like a very natural response for us." 

The trio announced their dance party via Twitter on Monday, sharing that each of their Instagram stories would include donation links to the Food Bank for New York City. In the announcement, Galvin said, "The N.Y.C. food bank is doing a beautiful job of providing those without shelter and the space to quarantine themselves or the necessities to get through this slightly scary time, and we'd like to aid them in that process." 

Platt urged in the video, "Give anything you can before the dance party — a dollar, $100, $1,000, or if all you can afford right now to give is your dance moves and your participation, that's awesome too."

The dance party garnered over 4,000 viewers on Instagram Live on Tuesday and radio app Stationhead allowed partygoers to all tune in and listen in at the same time to songs like Lizzo's "Good as Hell," the Jonas Brothers' "Burnin Up," Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know and Robyn's "Dancing on My Own." Platt later shared all the songs on a Spotify playlist.

"After we watched the videos of everyone else dancing along, it just filled us up with so much joy. Moments of unity in this isolation is so crucial for me to maintain a sense of normalcy and happiness," Gallagher says.

Mark Kanemura, a former So You Think You Can Dance contestant whose major breakout came touring with Lady Gaga for four-and-a-half years, has begun hosting dance parties and classes daily at 2 p.m. PT for his 683,000 followers on Instagram Live. "Last week, there was this 48-hour period where everything was getting canceled and postponed, all these jobs that I had lined up. I definitely went through a moment where I was freaking out a little bit, but it's not something I had control over," the dancer and dance teacher tells THR

His solution stemmed from a desire to do something that would not only help himself get out of a funk, but also get others up and moving . "I've always found for myself that dance is like therapy for me, anytime I'm anxious or stressed or sad or depressed. And I thought this was the perfect way to connect with people, as we're all at home and everyone is in a very fragile and emotional state."

Each class begins with a check-in, to "make sure everyone is treating themselves kindly," he says. The classes began as a casual, "Hey, I'm gonna hop on and if you want to dance with me, great," he recalls, but have now morphed into a structured routine with a full warm-up, a dance session with choreography, and a celebratory finale where he dresses up, wears wigs and tosses confetti everywhere.

"The response has been crazy, and it's so wonderful to see everyone's videos and posts of themselves dancing and getting in on the action," he says of the overwhelming feedback from fans including Heidi Klum, Carly Rae Jepsen and Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls). "During this time, it's been such a light for me. It's been something that I can wake up in the morning and look forward to every day, prepping for it and getting ready to go live. There's something so special for everyone in knowing that there's people from all over the world sharing in this fun, loving creative energy."

Kanemura plans on continuing to host his dance parties for the foreseeable future while the world is staying at home. "My goal is definitely to continue doing it. The longer that we're in this, the harder it's going to get. So I feel like it's even more important for me to continue with all of this not only for others, but for myself as well."

For her part, Fame star, choreographer and Grey's Anatomy executive producer Debbie Allen also started teaching free #DancingwithDebbieAllen dance classes on Instagram Live on Wednesday. Through her Debbie Allen Dance Academy, she will also host an "Early Birds" class designed for dancers ages 3 to 7 with Vivian Nixon and Angela Jordan on March 21.

"While all of us are dealing with this uncertainty and darkness, we will bring the light right here on the dance floor," she told her class, which amassed over 89,000 students, as she blasted Fame's titular song. 

While Gallagher does not know if another #QuaranTunes dance party will necessarily be live-streamed, she is "so excited and inspired by the creative wellspring I’m seeing on the Internet right now. Even though Broadway has gone dark, the performers and the community have done anything but and have really come together to support each other in such a beautiful way."

Kanemura adds, "One of the silver linings of everything that’s happening is that people are contributing in ways where they're giving free concerts or free classes — a dance class, a yoga class. Comedian friends of mine are doing 30-minute performances on their live streams. It's been really cool to see a lot of people within the industry trying to bring some light into this whole situation."