Oglebay Institute to Bring The Dancing Wheels Company to the Ohio Valley 

If dance is an expression of the human spirit, then it is best expressed by people of all abilities. That is the fundamental belief behind The Dancing Wheels Company and School, the first and foremost physically integrated dance company in the world.

Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance will bring The Dancing Wheels Company to the Ohio Valley for a workshop, school program and public concert.

The company will perform “Dancing On a Dream” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the John Marshall High School auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

“Dancing on a Dream” features some of president and founding artistic director Mary Verdi-Fletcher’s favorite works from the last decade.

One of the pieces of choreography in the show, “Going Up,” was created for a concert celebrating The Dancing Wheels Company’s 35th anniversary season and the concurrent 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Known as ADA, the iconic law changed the face of equality for persons with disabilities throughout the Unites States.

The Dancing Wheels Company of Cleveland, Ohio, performs “Going Up,” part of the “Daring to Dream” concert set for April 2 at John Marshall High School.

“Going Up” is a work of dance theater set in an imaginary elevator. Personal stories reveal universal truths via live and recorded text fused with a divergent range of music. With each new floor the elevator reaches, riders and audience members come face-to-face with stereotypes and obstacles people with disabilities encounter daily.

Another company favorite that will be performed is “Neither Lost Nor Found.” The dance work’s accompanying soundtrack gives consideration to current societal issues and emphasizes that acceptance of everyone is key.

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Another work in the repertoire — “Far East of the Blues” — is by world-renowned choreographer Donald McKayle, who passed away in April 2018 and found working with The Dancing Wheels Company “eye-opening.”

“Far East of the Blues” is a dance work set to four movements from Duke Ellington’s 1966 “Far East Suite,” an album inspired by a world tour the composer embarked on with his orchestra in 1963.

In addition to the April 2 evening concert, The Dancing Wheels Company will perform “Daring To Be Dumbo” as a student matinee performance at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the John Marshall High School auditorium. This program is also free.

The story is set in a contemporary Junior High School where Dumbo is now a bullied 13-year-old girl. The story exemplifies turning differences from weakness into strength through the love of family, friends and, ultimately, oneself. Students will explore lessons on relationships and self-awareness and become better equipped to discuss social issues within their community and school. The performance is suitable for grades pre-k through third.

The Dancing Wheels Company performs “Daring To Be Dumbo.”

Founding artistic director Mary Verdi-Fletcher, with the help of director of outreach and company member Sara Lawrence-Sucato and guest artist Meredith Aleigha Wells, will teach a physically integrated dance workshop to dance students and community members at 7 p.m. Monday, April 1, at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance. There is a fee for the workshop, which is open to students of all abilities.

For more information or to register for any of the programs, call 304-242-7700 or visit OIonline.com.

The National Endowment for the Arts helped fund this project. In addition, the Rosemary M. Front Charitable Trust, the Robert and Helen Levenson Family Charitable Trust and Peter J. Lim provided support.