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Entertainment meets inspiration when Dancing Wheels performs Sunday afternoon in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College in Sylvania.
The Cleveland-based modern dance company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is made up of performers in wheelchairs and "stand-up" dancers. The troupe was founded by Mary Verdi-Fletcher, who was born with spina bifida, a defect of the spine. She has used a wheelchair for most of her life.
Dancing Wheels is being brought to northwest Ohio by a group called the JOY People, which coordinator Hank Douglas describes as an informal, nondenominational organization of about 40 people who have physical disabilities. JOY People is affiliated with the Toledo Catholic Diocese's Equal Access Ministry.
Douglas, of Holland, said Dancing Wheels' mission is "to show what people can do when they take risks and follow a dream and try something new Whether we have disabilities or not, we all have dreams and want to try things, and this may be the inspiration people need."
Seven dancers - three of them in wheelchairs - will present a one-hour sampling of the company's standalone pieces and selections from its full productions. Dancing Wheels presents over 100 performances in the United States each year, including educational outreach lecture/performances, residencies, mainstage repertory concerts, and full-length story ballets. The company has been featured in national publications and TV programs including the ABC special, Christopher Reeve, A Celebration of Hope, CBS Sunday Morning, and Good Morning America.
Douglas said the performance will be in the gymnasium of the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center to ensure accessibility and plenty of room for spectators in wheelchairs.
Dancing Wheels performs from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the gymnasium of the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Admission is $5; tickets will be available at the door. Information: 419-244-6711, ext. 515, or 419-824-3999.
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