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. 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.
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 our very notion of dance as well as what defines a dancer.
To date, The Dancing Wheels Company's inspirational mission has touched over 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. With a message of inclusion and accessibility, the Company continually expands the reach of artistic possibilities while celebrating the universal spirit of dance.
Recent Feedback From Schools
The students enjoyed the performance not only because it was very interesting, but mainly because of the uniqueness of the performance. Our students learned quite a lot and really enjoyed how the group incorporated their disabilities into their routines and used that to their advantage. A really good lesson for our students.
Dancing Wheels was a fascinating performance. After the show I heard students talking about it and how "cool" it was to see the performance. It was a great lesson and the kids were very impressed by the way the group treated their disabilities...very important to make our students aware of so many aspects of Special Education.
Our K-12 curriculum includes learning empathy. "Dancing Wheels" from Cleveland Ohio featured talented artists both typical dancers and dancers using wheelchairs. Our own school has several students with mobility issues who use wheelchairs daily. To view these students as having abilities, interests and artistic skills and desires to express themselves through music is so important to growing up with an accurate view of peers with disabilities. Building empathy needs explicit teaching. Reaching kids through the arts is an excellent way to communicate many ideas but empathy is an important one. Seeing "others" are actually much like us is an amazing thing that can be seen, heard, touched and communicated through the arts.
K-3 kids were not bored...many selected it as the favorite part of a very action-packed arts day. That speaks a lot for the performer's ability to hold their audience's attention. So, so talented!
Excerpts from the Lecture/ Performance program.
Can't access YouTube at your school? View the video on SchoolTube here.
Fees listed are for Columbus-area schools. This act originates in Cleveland.
The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, 77 S. High Street, 2nd Fl., Columbus, OH 43215-6108 tel: 614.224.1060 email:
All Riffe Center visitors must provide photo ID. Backpacks are not permitted in the building.