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March 7, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab


Diverse dance troupe visits SRU                

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Dancing Wheels Co. and School, which reaches out to communities through educational programs and performances by dancers representing diversity of age, ethnicity, gender and physical ability, will present a workshop and a performance at Slippery Rock University March 20.

           The workshop is at 12:30 p.m.; the performance at 7:30 p.m. Both events are in Swope Music Hall. The SRU President’s Commission on Disability Issues is sponsoring the visit. A master class open to dance majors is at 2 p.m., and will be followed by auditions for those with or without a disability.

           “The company embodies the message of equality and accessibility,” said Cindy LaCom, SRU professor of English and commission member. The SRU performance will feature four dancers, including two in wheelchairs.

           “The dance company demonstrates that dreams can be achieved through perseverance and belief in oneself,” she said. Dancing Wheels reaches adults and children with and without disabilities on a very personal level.

           The workshop will cover dance, integrated movement, and disability-related issues in a fun and informative way. Dancers will also demonstrate the language of dance through adaptive translation via sign language and shadowing.

           The evening presentation will mix lecture and performance, including discussion of how dancers with disabilities live full lives regardless of obstacles.

           Mary Verdi-Fletcher, who was born with spina bifida and committed herself to dance despite her disability, founded the Dancing Wheels in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio.

           She is the first professional wheelchair dancer in the U.S. Her overall plan was to offer others with disabilities full and equal access to the world of dance.

           The company’s fundamental philosophy is, “If dance is an expression of the human spirit, then it is best expressed by people of all abilities.”

           The company and school is considered by many as one of the premier arts and disabilities organizations in the U.S. Its mission is to unite the talents of dancers with and without disabilities.

           Its state-of-the-art studios are regarded as a world-class training center for dancers, choreographers and educators. The project has worked with the Cleveland Ballet in creating the ground-breaking Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels.

           The company’s work has been seen on CNN, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the TV special “Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope.”

           The company promotes a repertory of more than 40 works from nationally esteemed choreographers.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.