Artists in Schools Directory

   

Dancing Wheels Company, The

Artist's Narrative

 Dancing Wheels Company, The 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!


Video

Excerpts from the Lecture/ Performance program.

Can't access YouTube at your school? View the video on SchoolTube here.



Availability

Upon request.
Fees listed are for Columbus-area schools. This act originates in Cleveland.

Programs Available

Lecture/ Performance (Grade levels K-12)
Perfect for K through college, this 45-minute to one-hour program presents dance and disability-related issues in a fun and informative way. This Lecture/ Performance has been applauded by educators and children across the country for its sensitivity relating to disability/ accessibility issues as well as its innovative approach to the art of dance. The highly entertaining program utilizes narration, discussion, demonstration, audience participation, performance and Q&A to explore the diversity of dance, disability/ accessibility both in real life situations and in the arts, motivation and self esteem. Children come away with a sense of achievement and a greater understanding of the potential within us all.

TEACHER'S STUDY GUIDE INCLUDED and a list of academic content standards met can be provided.
Activity Options:
Lecture/Performance
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $700/ $1,200 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.

Lecture/ Performance with Story Ballet Theme (Grade levels K-12)

These assembly-based, abbreviated versions of the mainstage concerts feature fully costumed performances with the full Dancing Wheels Company and are perfect for in-school performances.   This program features one of the following Dancing Wheels Story Ballets:

Alice in Wonderland… like it’s never been seen before!
This contemporary, hip and slick production uses vivid imagery and characters to create a kaleidoscopic trip through Wonderland that is edgy yet family-oriented.

Daring to be Dumbo
A reimagining of the original story set in a contemporary Junior High School, Dumbo is now a thirteen year old girl who is bullied and exemplifies turning differences from weakness into strength.

Helen Keller:  A Tribute to Her Teacher
To honor The Cleveland Sight Center’s centennial anniversary, we proudly present this story ballet about the adult life of Helen Keller. The story highlights her accomplishments as a pioneering force for women, people with disabilities and the civil rights movement.

Pinocchio
The original story of Pinocchio is reflected to depict the tale of a wooden boy who comes to life and takes on a host of mischievous escapades while learning very important life lessons.  This new production is complete with Gepetto, Jimminy Cricket, Figaro, and other favorite characters.

The Snowman
Raymond Briggs’ captivating, heartwarming children's book and video is beautifully brought to life through enchanting movement and sound.

TEACHER'S STUDY GUIDE INCLUDED and a list of academic content standards met can be provided.

Activity Options:
The Snowman
  • Duration: 45 min. plus Q&A
  • Fees: $1,200 / $2,000 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet. Areas for quick changes during production.
Pinocchio
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $1,200 / $2,000 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet. Areas for quick changes during production.
Alice in Wonderland…like it’s never been seen before!
  • Duration: 45 min. plus Q&A
  • Fees: $1,200 / $2,000 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet. Areas for quick changes during production.
Pinocchio
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $1,200 / $2,000 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet. Areas for quick changes during production.
Daring to be Dumbo
  • Duration: 45 min. plus Q&A
  • Fees: $1,200 / $2,000 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet. Areas for quick changes during production.

Expanded Lecture/ Performance with a Historical Theme (Grade levels 3-12)

These assembly-based, shorter versions of our mini-mainstage concert feature 4-6 dancers for in-school performances centered on one of the following stories:

Far East of the Blues
World renowned choreographer Donald McKayle sought to capture the mood and imagery evoked in the great jazz legend Duke Ellington’s “Far East Suite.”

Sweet Radio Radicals
Features music from female singers and songwriters who helped to influence and change society with their music.

Unconquered Warriors
Infuses traditional Chinese dance with modern dance in a story based on the culture of Chinese warriors.

Walking on Clouds
An emotional, historical look at equality and the example of Rosa Parks. Words and movement combine to explore the differences and similarities between the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities and people of color.

TEACHER'S STUDY GUIDE INCLUDED and a list of academic content standards met can be provided.

Activity Options:
Walking on Clouds
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $900 / $1,600 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.
Sweet Radio Radicals
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $900 / $1,600 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.
Unconquered Warriors
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $900 / $1,600 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.
Far East of the Blues
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $900 / $1,600 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.

Expanded Lecture Performance with a Science Theme (Grade levels 6-12)
Perfect for secondary education students, this 45-minute to 1-hour program, including a question-and-answer session, brings together information about dance, disability related issues, and science in a fun and informative manner. 

Science:  A Catalyst for Art in Motion is an interactive assembly program with dance, disability awareness, and curriculum-based subject matter centered on Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.  The program demonstrates such factors as force, acceleration and opposing reactions through the use of the Dancing Wheels Company’s highly technical wheelchairs used for everyday mobility and dance.  The program also touches on the science behind wheelchair construction, development, and the technologies that go into the composition of the chair’s metals, wheel circumference and design elements. 
Activity Options:
Science: A Catalyst for Art in Motion
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Fees: $900 / $1,600 for two back-to-back
  • Requirements: Maximum audience 350. Size of performance area at least 35 ft wide by 25 ft deep. No carpet.

“Making a Difference” Residency (Grade levels K-12)
This one day residency incorporates dance with Social Studies and English standards to address diversity, relationships, communication (both oral and visual) and accessibility. 

TEACHER'S STUDY GUIDE INCLUDED and a list of academic content standards met can be provided.
Activity Options:
“Making a Difference” Residency
  • Duration: One day
  • Fees: $600 (includes travel and accommodations; additional fee for culminating assembly-based lecture performance if desired)
  • Requirements: Class size no larger than 50 students.

Workshops (Grade levels K-12)
Workshops provide participants an in-depth look at physically integrated dance through adaptive translation, integrated partnering techniques, and the opportunity to try dancing in a wheelchair. Multiple instructors are involved to assist study in small groups. A workshop may be tailored to the specific needs of your organization and lasts between 1-3 hours.
Activity Options:
Workshops
  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Fees: $700 ($500 when booked in addition to a performance)
  • Requirements: Maximum 30 participants

Master Class (Grade levels K-12)
An instructor from The Dancing Wheels Company & School teaches a Master Class in various genres of dance such as modern, ballet, or jazz for participants of mixed abilities or specifically for disabled or non-disabled groups.
Activity Options:
Master Class
  • Duration: 60 min. or per request
  • Fees: $75 per hour (plus $50 for travel to Columbus)
  • Requirements: Maximum 30 participants.

Mainstage Concert (All ages/community concert)
Recognized for presenting artistic works that represent quality, diversity, and professionalism, the 75-90 minute mainstage theatre concert features the national touring company with a repertory of over 40 works from nationally-esteemed choreographers.
Activity Options:
Mainstage Concert
  • Duration: 75-90 min.
  • Fees: $5,000-$8,000