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 & School of Cleveland, Ohio. Considered one of the premier arts and disabilities organizations in the U.S., Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities.
Individuals who previously found limited access to the arts due to physical, sensory, or developmental disabilities will enjoy inclusive dance and participatory learning with their disabled and non-disabled peers. The result is a freeing, educational, and joyous art experience.
“We are proud to host these incredible instructors from the School of Dancing Wheels as they present this wonderful educational outreach program,” said Oglebay Institute director of dance Cheryl Pompeo. “At Oglebay Institute we strive to provide opportunities for all people to experience and participate in the arts. Dance, in particular, allows people with differing abilities the opportunity to express their individuality, gain self-confidence, and experience the joy of movement in new and rewarding ways.”
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Mary Verdi-Fletcher, the first professional wheelchair dancer in the U.S., founded the Dancing Wheels Company in Cleveland in 1980. Born with spina bifida, Mary wanted to offer others with disabilities full and equal access into the world of dance. An almost unimaginable concept at the time, Mary’s vision and passion have since helped to revolutionize the very notion of dance – as well as what defines a dancer. You can learn more about Mary’s inspiring journey in this 2012 interview with Marlo Thomas.
Furthering the mission of inclusive arts and recreation opportunities for all, the School of Dancing Wheels proudly opened its doors in 1990. Its state-of-the-art studios were soon regarded as a world-class training center for dancers, choreographers and educators. That same year, a partnership with the Cleveland Ballet created the groundbreaking Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels, which went on to delight audiences for nearly a decade.
To date, the Dancing Wheels Company’s inspirational mission has touched more than 5 million people through performances, school assemblies, residencies and workshops. Millions more have enjoyed their artistry via appearances on CNN, “Good Morning America,” and the TV special “Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope.”
The March 21 workshop is open to all students with or without disabilities. For more information and to register, please call Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance at 304-242-7700.