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Cleveland Ingenuity Festival 2013

Greetings Readers!,

It has been quite some time since we’ve shared with you what the company has been up to. Busy none the less. We’d love to get you back up to speed on everything that’s happened but that will all come in a later post. Today we’d like to share that we have the privilege of performing at the 2013 Cleveland Ingenuity Festival! On Saturday the company will be performing an excerpt of “Walking on Clouds” in a warehouse with a twist! Our founding/artist director, Mary Verdi-Fletcher has collected footage from a documentary that shares the feats of people with and without disabilities coming together to capture the inaccessible buses. It promises to be an unforgettable and moving performance. If you’re visiting the Cleveland area this weekend, we recommend that you stop by the Cleveland Port at 1pm on Saturday to see the company perform!


Dancing Wheels in the top 6 Finalists for CAC Grant!

A few weeks ago, Dancing Wheels was informed that we are one of the top 6 organizations chosen as finalists for the CAC Grant!

Congratulations! I’m pleased to you inform you that our panel of independent judges has scored your Creative Culture Grants project as one of the top six. This means your project will now move forward to the next round, where the two winning projects will be chosen by public vote.


In order for Dancing Wheels to become a winner, we will need everyone ages 13 and over in Cuyahoga County to vote for our company! 

There are two ways to vote! Cuyahoga County Residents can vote online starting February 1st and ending on February 20th at 11:59pm EST (A link to the online voting system will go live on CAC’s website). Residents may also vote by paper ballot (available at, which can either be delivered in person or by U.S mail to Cuyahoga Arts and Culture’s office, 1501 Euclid ave. Suite 407, Cleveland, OH 44115 by February 15th 4:30pm EST. Ballots received after the deadline and incomplete or illegible ballots will not be counted.

What is Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s Creative Culture Grants program for?

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture created the Creative Culture Grants program to bring large-scale, transformative projects to Cuyahoga County residents by awarding two grants worth up to $150,000 each. An independent panel of experts from outside Northeast Ohio evaluated and scored the 12 proposed projects from organizations that applied to this program, and the top six project finalists will go to public vote in February 2013.

Through this grant we’ll have the ability to continue reaching out to new audiences in the hopes of touching more lives with our mission and movement. We would truly appreciate all the support we can get in this vote. Please pass this on to family, friends and neighbors!

Bus 52 Presents: The Dancing Wheels Company and School

When Dancing Wheels performed at West Virginia Northern Community College this past October, Bus 52 met us there to learn about what we do and why we do it. Here is the final product of that collaboration!

Updates from our Outreach program!

Jessica Kostoff teaches one of our Outreach classes in Beachwood, Ohio. She has given us some insight on the progress of the students and what to look forward too!

The Beachwood adult class is amazing!  We have been having so much fun in class!  Everyone comes in excited to move!  During October we had a great Halloween class.  We played some games and worked on creative movement activities.  We played pass the pumpkin with a small pumpkin and pretended it was different weight and shapes and how to handle it like so.  We also did the Monster Mash!  The participants kept asking to do it again and again.  We also explored with movement across the floor as Halloween creatures.  A participant from the previous class requested that I bring in some disco music, and I did, so we built a dance together.  We went around the circle and each person added a movement on.  Everyone enjoyed being able to participate in the creation of a dance. 


                In the next few classes we are going to work further on building dances and movement phrases together and putting meaning behind them.  We are also going to work on a creative movement series called, “Ready, Set, Move”.   This has several steps to it and will take a few class periods.  It works a lot with listening and following directions.  It also works with colors, numbers and movements that they get to do and review all those skills.  I am looking forward to building more skills with them and enjoying the holidays with them.  They are a special group of people and I always look forward to going to see them!

Dancing Wheels loves spreading our message as well as giving people a chance to be themselves and dance with abandon! If there is a group of students, with or without disabilities, that you think would be interest in a program like this?

Then contact our office at (216) 432-0306 or email our School Coordinator at


The School of Dancing Wheels Ensemble collaborates with Unveil, ArtWorks Dance Performance Company


This past Saturday the dancers of the Performance Ensemble took class and rehearsal with the students from the after school program ArtWorks. These students are in internships learning how to create and be in a professional dance company. The two groups will be working together throughout this semester in creating some works to be performed in December. The ArtWorks dance company Unveil were asked to write about their experience at Dancing Wheels and their responses are below. The two groups will be meeting again November 3rd.


My experience with Dancing Wheels was great. I learned that it’s people first. It was nice to meet and dance with students and people with disabilities. They weren’t as different as anyone else. They still had emotions and feelings, and to me they were pretty happy. It was fun to see and learn how it feels to be in a wheelchair and having to use all of your upper body strength. I can’t wait to go back and dance with Dancing Wheels again!


I enjoyed working with the Dancing Wheels Company School Ensemble. It was a very fun experience. I loved when we worked on choreography. The techniques were insightful and interesting.


This Saturday at the Dancing Wheels Dance Company I had a good experience. I enjoyed moving with the dancers with disabilities, and I was inspired by how they and the whole company don’t let their disabilities hold them back! I really learned not to be discouraged or let something hold me back in dance or in life. I loved everybody’s positive attitudes and learning how to ride and move in the wheels chairs!


My experience at Dancing Wheels was awesome. I had a really good time working with the School Ensembles. I really liked how we did different dance moves with the wheel chairs. I didn’t know you could use wheel chairs in all of those different ways. My favorite part was riding on the back of the electric wheel chair and keeping a pose while doing it.


As I walked into the Dancing Wheels studio, I was hesitant, nervous for new experience and excited for new friends. Once I saw Motion teaching hip-hop, I thought it was all over. I have no rhythm. Hip-hop is not my favorite style of dance, but Motion helped me understand how to move. Once we started to interact with the dancers with disabilities, I was amazed. They were keeping up with all standing dancers phenomenally. Some could retain better then I could. Then we tried getting in their shoes, or I should say chairs. The experience was eye opening and extremely fun. I am ecstatic I have that memory and anticipating the next visit to be just as great!


I went to a small Quaker elementary school where there were at least two special needs kids in every class. I think the best thing you can do with special needs is to talk to them, and meet them at their level, and include them. I strived to do that last Saturday. It was interesting to learn wheelchair techniques, but I was acutely aware of the fact that, unlike some of the girls in the class, my experience in the wheelchair was only temporary.


My experience in working with dancers with disabilities was interesting. I was surprised to know how much the students talked. I always thought they were quiet but going to Dancing Wheels proved otherwise. They were as eager as I was to learn and I found it refreshing. They were also fun to work with because the shapes that we were able to create were unique. I also did an arabesque on one of the student’s motorized wheelchair, which I thought I couldn’t do but I tried it and accomplished it.

The School of Dancing Wheels: Jamaica Nida

Like always, each Saturday one of our students writes a blog about their experience with the School of Dancing Wheels. This time its Jamaica’s turn. She is one of our senior members at the school and has even performed with the company in the past! See what she had to say below:

So it all started when i was about 4 years old, i remember it like it was not too long ago. My first teacher’s name was Todd and my first performance was at The Fine Arts Association. From there i began to learn so many new skills that i enjoy, such as skills like how to do a full turn in a wheelchair and other new skills like how to perform onstage. This past year i was in The Snowman for the 4th time. i was going to be onstage with some of the company members which meant i would have to learn how to use some of the stage props in the show, which did not work out well. i love being here because i get to learn the skills i need for dance as well as theater, music, i’m also wanting to be in commercals and movies and stuff. And now with that being said i would like
to share with you some of my favorite things of mine.

1. “Ohmigod You Guys” – Legally Blonde: The Musical – Original Cast
This is one of the songs in my favorite musical Legally blonde. which i will be in at Beavercreek Community theater next summer.

2. Legally Blonde – Positive – Broadway Performance
This is another video from the broadway version (the first one was from the same show). This song is called positive, this song rocks and i
love the dance break to it. i actually know how to do it too!

From the Teachers perspective

Here is a word from one our newest teachers, Jessica Kostoff, about her experience thus far with teaching students of various abilities in one of our Outreach Programs!

This month, I started teaching the class at Beachwood Adult Activities Center. The class has 8 participants in it and are all new to the Dancing Wheels program. We have had two successful classes so far. The participants worked on gaining flexibility and strength as well as working on social interactions and building a community in the classroom. The participants also worked on interacting with each other through a ball passing activity and learned some movement fundamentals by going across the floor and learning a dance to the song Firework. This was a fun final summer activity for the participants. We used colorful scarves that they threw up in the air like fireworks at the end of the dance.

There was growth in the participants in just one week. The first week they did not know what to expect and needed motivation to move. The second week they were showing me what they remembered and participated throughout the entire class. I am looking forward to the next classes and including some fall and Halloween activities with them. We are all having fun and the participants are getting to work with others. Not only are they learning dance and movement elements from me, but I am learning from them too. It has been a great experience so far and I love this class!!!!

Jessica Kostoff

We’d like to thank Jessica for being a great new addition to the team!


So you may have already learned about our Trainee program from a previous blog. We also offer Apprenticeship’s for dancers with performance experience and potential to be in the company. An Apprentice takes company classes as well as learns all the repertoire for performances. They also will have opportunities to perform with the company! This season Kelly Clymer has joined us as an Apprentice! We’d like to share a little about her and her previous dance experience.

Kelly Clymer is a newcomer to Dancing Wheels, and hails from Independence, Ohio. She recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercyhurst University with a degree in Dance Choreography and Art Therapy. Her performance credits include Les Patineurs, Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty, and Symphonie Italienne, along with original works of faculty and student choreographers. She has studied with noted professionals Carter Alexander, Melissa Bowman, Thom Clower, Vivi Flindt, Bruce Marks, Rasta Thomas, Trey McIntyre, and Diego Salterini. She has performed with Southwest Youth Ballet Company and The Mercyhurst Dancers under directors Kerry Skuderin, and Tauna Hunter respectively.


A quote from Kelly:

I’ve been a fan of Dancing Wheels since I saw them perform at the NorthEast Ohio Dance Festival years ago! I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to join them this season. Learning the repertoire, along with new pieces, has been great so far!



Wish her luck as she embarks on this new experience with the company!


Today we’d like to tell you about our Trainee program. A trainee is someone that is given the opportunity to be apart of all of the company classes and rehearsals, as well as learning pieces from the repertoire.

This season, Ja’Vaughn White has joined us as a Trainee.

Ja’Vaughn White is a newcomer to The Dancing Wheels Company & School. He was born in Detroit, MI and raised in Adrian, MI. In June 2012, he graduated from Adrian High School, where he was involved in The Dance Team, Concert Choir, Balladiers Show-choir, Tones Acapella Group and several high school musicals. He has performed in several plays at The Croswell Opera House including Fame, Footloose and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. For the past 4 years he has lead The Annual Thriller dance around the city each Halloween night. Ja’Vaughn studied dance at Encore Dance Studio, studying Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Jazz and Hip-Hop. He is also a Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He has moved to Cleveland to begin his professional career with The Dancing Wheels Company & School and is excited to be able to do what he truly loves, dance.

Ja’Vaughn we love having you in the studio. Your energy and passion is inspiring!

In Studio

Today we’d like to share a bit about what goes on in the studio. Wednesday is a unique day because we start off our class at 9:30am instead of 10. We have a guest teacher, (Bill Wade) who comes in and teaches a Hawkins technique class. This is exciting for us because its something different from our usual classes and we get to share our space with Bill’s company and trainees!

At the beginning of this season, we welcomed a new dancer to the company (Shannon Sterne), as well as an apprentice (Kelly Clymer) and a trainee (Ja’Vaughn White). Since we are a repertoire company, there are many pieces that the new comers must begin learning in order to prepare for tours and upcoming performances. This week we’ve been focusing our attention on getting the dancers into such pieces as, Walking on Clouds, Far East of the Blues, Anomalies and many more. Can you imagine learning six different dances at the same time? Shannon, Kelly and Ja’Vaughn are doing it wonderfully!

This doesn’t happen everyday but Mary (Founder/Artist Director), bought presents, cards, pizza and cake to celebrate September birthdays!

Help us wish, Samantha Fox, Isaah Henderson and Sean Gilbert, the happiest of birthdays!!!