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Men in tights: Dancing Dads will perform at Community Expo

The Dancing Dads will perform at the Woodbury Community Expo debut April 1 at East Ridge High School. The men in the group have sons and daughters who take dance lessons at the Woodbury Dance Center, who are the entertainment sponsors for the Expo. (Submitted photo)

They're football coaches, IT guys, engineers.

And of course, they're all dads.

More specifically, they're the Dancing Dads, Woodbury's greatest, most renowned — OK, only — troupe of booty-shaking paterfamilias.

The group grew out of the Woodbury Dance Center, where their sons and daughters study tap, ballet and other forms of movement. The guys see it as a way to bond with their pirouetting progeny and to dance a mile in their shoes, so to speak.

"I get to participate in something she loves doing and at the same time I get to embarrass her," said Harrison Hudnall, whose daughter Lainey is a student at the school. "On one hand she'll be like, 'Oh you're awful up there.' But I think she secretly is glad that I'm doing it."

April 1, the Dancing Dads will make their debut at the Woodbury Community Expo at East Ridge High School. They've begun weekly rehearsals at Woodbury Dance Center, where choreographer and co-owner/director Kathy Mueller drills them.

"She keeps us organized," Keith Pabich said. "If we were left to organize ourselves we'd be watching Wild hockey."

Pabich first saw the Dancing Dads perform at the Dance Center's end-of-year recital in June at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. His daughter Elisabeth was one of the performers. The Dancing Dads came out dressed up as bikers. Pabich recognized one of the guys up onstage, dancing to "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. The guy played on Pabich's softball team.

"I saw him dancing there," Pabich said. "I said, 'You know what? I'm going to give it a shot.'"

The group participates in the Woodbury Polar Plunge each year to raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota.

While his daughter Alexa, 7, rehearses for dance program for the spring recital, John Fahey of Woodbury is busy rehearsing for their Community Expo appearance, which will feature a "Grease" theme.

"My daughter has been going to Woodbury Dance Center for the past three or four years," said Fahey, who works as director of national member advantage at Lifetime Fitness. "It was just a good way to support her."

For the third consecutive year, Woodbury Dance Center are entertainment sponsors for the Expo.

"They're big in the community," Fahey said. "This is just kind of another extension of that. I coach three sports. Parents these days say, 'Do this, do that.' We're more of, 'Hey, watch this, we're right here with you.'"

Hudnall said he figured no one outside of Woodbury would discover his double life as a Dancing Dad — least of all his coworkers at Medtronics.

"That was part of my own rationale," he said. "I can't imagine too many people I work with there being there to see this (spring dance recital). But lo and behold there's a co-worker. She told everybody.

"The next day I see a coworker in a meeting and the first thing she said was, 'I heard you dance!'"

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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