Like Elfman, Dharma was "so confident, lively, such a free spirit. I was happy to play that, and to bring that joy, to make people more active and happy."
Elfman made people far more active and happy on National Dance Day July 26 at Washington's Kennedy Center, where she led a thousand-strong crowd in two routines from "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD). She "co-taught" the routines with SYTYCD season 10 winner Fik-Shun Stegall, and the audience went more than a bit dizzy for the duo.
"I love that you're all doing this. Awesome, awesome," she praised the throng at the joyous event to promote dancing as a fun way to get fit.
The D.C. event was one of many nationwide. Others were at Los Angeles' Grand Park and The Music Center, hosted by Nigel Lythgoe and SYTYCD season 9 Finalist Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, and at New York's Lincoln Center, hosted by SYTYCD All-Stars Spencer “tWitch” Boss and Allison Holker.
National Dance Day's supported by Dizzy Feet Foundation, co-founded by SYTYCD co-creator, executive producer, judge Nigel Lythgoe and SYTYCD director, producer, judge Adam Shankman. Elfman, a Dizzy Feet Foundation board member, was also a guest judge on SYTYCD's season 11 premiere May 28.
Elfman and Fik-Shun grooved, got down, waxed on, waxed off, and what a wave they did. The crowd shrieked approval.
The elfin Elfman is still identified with the irrepressible, irresistible Dharma Finkelstein from the 1997-2002 "Dharma & Greg" sitcom.
"People come up and want to hug me because they want to hug Dharma," Elfman told me on National Dance Day. "So many people love it. And with re-runs, there're so many new fans."
Her former co-star Thomas Gibson, might still be better-known for "Greg" Montgomery of that odd but adorable couple, than for "Hotch", the chief of a behavior analysis unit in "Criminal Minds" (2005-).
Although a long-running show has eluded Elfman, she's starred in several more, and been critically acclaimed. "The Washington Post" headline last March 8: "For Jenna Elfman, sitcom mom role on 'Growing Up Fisher' is a perfect fit". But "Growing up Fisher", and also her "1600 Penn" (2012-2013), had only one season. No, she did not play a President.
Anyway, she's plenty busy. Her next of many films, "Big Stone Gap", will be released later this year. It's based on the best-selling novel by Adriana Trigiani, who also wrote its screenplay and directed the movie.
She's "the most exuberant, playful person," Elfman said, "such a lovely, lively soul."
Cast members include Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Wilson, Ashley Judd, Jane Krakowski...
Elfman and Whoopi "have a similar sense of humor -- absurd. Whoopi's fantastic. Working with her is extraordinary."
Elfman termed Patrick Wilson "so handsome, like a young Paul Newman."
The 1978 romantic comedy was filmed in Big Stone Gap, in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where Trigiani grew up.
"It's the most lovely experience to film in such a small town (population about 5,500). It's the smallest town I've ever been in. I'm Los Angeles born and bred." She lives there with her husband and two young sons.
But her true "home base" is dancing. "First and foremost, I'm a dancer," which she certainly proved on National Dance Day. "Dance is the coolest."
She sums up: "I'm very lucky. I do all the things I love...regularly and for pay...and I get to help people through charities" like the Dizzy Feet Foundation.
No wonder so many people are simply dizzy about Jenna/Dharma -- the coolest.
For more info: Jenna Elfman, http://www.jennaelfman.com. "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD), http://www.fox.com/dance. National Dance Day, http://dizzyfeetfoundation.org/national-dance-day. Supported by Dizzy Feet Foundation, co-founded by SYTYCD co-creator, executive producer, judge Nigel Lythgoe and SYTYCD director, producer, judge Adam Shankman. Elfman is a Dizzy Feet Foundation board member.