Dancing Wheels Company Launches a Landmark Collaboration to Bring Awareness and Support to Caregivers and Patients with Dementia

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CLEVELAND, December 2, 2022In an effort to bring greater understanding and recognition of those diseases related to Dementia/Alzheimer’s, the Dancing Wheels Company & School join forces with Cleveland-based hospitals, memory care facilities, facilities for aging adults, and individual caregivers to present Making Memories: A Journey through Dementia, a performance/presentation like no other, to be held at the Saint Ignatius Breen Center on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday January 22, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.

About the Project:

As an organization, the Dancing Wheels Company & School is committed to equality and human rights through transformational artistic practice, outreach, and performance. We have found many ways to build artistic programming that speaks to these subjects through immersive and hands on experiences.

During the 2020/2021 season, the Dancing Wheels Company commissioned a new work from choreographer Mark Tomasic, who has been the company’s Artistic Advisor for the past 7 years.  Over the years, Tomasic has created several acclaimed works for the company but his proposal for this particular work spoke volumes to Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher. Tomasic proposed the creation of a dance based on the effects of dementia on his parents and family.  His new work “Proof” serves as a testament to the enduring love his parents shared and to the strength, resilience, and patience of caregivers.

Over the past year, Verdi-Fletcher applied for a grant that would not only bring the production of “Proof” to stage but would also build a connection with the community and inspire dialogue and discussion among family members and caregivers. Dancing Wheels also proposed   conducting workshops with caregivers and family members using movement and verbal prompts to help express feelings and release emotions.

The grant was approved by the National Dance Project rising to the top of hundreds of applications.  The idea of community involvement was a driving force in the approval of the grant and has been the catalyst for the development of amazing partnerships and exchanges with the following organizations and individuals: Alzheimer’s Association, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, Busch Funeral and Crematory Service*, Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Cleveland Clinic Brain Health Center, Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation, Danbury Senior Living*,  A Dementia Friendly LIFE, LaBena Fleming, Cee Cee Hodgson, Hospice of the Western Reserve, and WKYC TV 3* to date. (* indicates sponsors).

About the development for the performance and presentation, Verdi-Fletcher said, “One very important aspect for our organization was to have an exchange with these experts in the field of dementia and other related brain diseases. We want to learn the advancements in care and medical technology. We wanted to provide an opportunity to offer comfort and knowledge and to provide a haven in which caregivers and patients would not feel isolated as they go through the same journey.”

About the Performance and Presentation:

Making Memories: A Journey through Dementia will be an immersive experience that includes dance; video installation based on interviews and stories from caregivers, patients, and medical staff; guest speakers; and a dialogue with audience members at the conclusion of the presentation. Many of the partners will have interactive activities and information available at resource tables in the lobby of the Breen Center for the event.

Tickets for the presentation/performance are moderately price to accommodate all of those who wish to join us. Individual tickets are $15 and tickets for groups of 10 or more cost $10 each. For more information, or to purchase group rate tickets, call (216) 432-0306 or visit our website at www.dancingwheels.org.

Dancing Wheels continues to seek sponsorships for this project to help defer costs to constituents and facilities who wish to receive our services. Interested parties may contact Mary Verdi-Fletcher by email at VFletcher1@aol.com.

About the Company:

Dancing Wheels Company & School

Under the Artistic Direction of Mary Verdi-Fletcher, America’s first professional wheelchair dancer, the Dancing Wheels Company is now in its 42nd season.  As a strong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Verdi-Fletcher opened the doors of opportunity for people with disabilities who desire to be on equal ground with their non-disabled peers.  Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the Dancing Wheels Company educates and employs professionally trained dancers with and without disabilities. The Company tours globally with performances reaching over 6 million people since its inception. Educational outreach programs, under the direction of Sara Lawrence-Sucato, serve over 4,000 children and adults throughout Northeast Ohio annually. To learn more about the Dancing Wheels Company & School, visit www.dancingwheels.org.

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