Dancing Wheels Crosses Cultural Boundaries with Historic Tour to China

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Dance company serves as ambassadors of disability possibilities at China’s first-ever festival to feature disabled artists

October 10, 2019–  The full Dancing Wheels Company will embark on its first tour to Beijing, China for the opening of the Luminous Festival featuring the work of disabled artists.

This historic festival, presented by the Body On/On Cultural Exchange Center in Beijing, is a first -of-its-kind presentation of a physically integrated, professional dance company comprised of dancers with and without disabilities. The Dancing Wheels Company is thrilled to open The Luminous Festival dance concert at the state-of-the-art 77 Theater (77 Meishuguan Back Street Dongcheng Qu) in Beijing on October 19 at 2:30 p.m.

The full concert will showcase some of the company’s most impressive works by esteemed choreographers, including Dianne McIntyre, Peter Kalivas, Mark Tomasic, and Donald McKayle.

Ms. McIntyre’s work, Sweet Radio Radials, brings to the stage music from the 1920s to the 1970s with female artists such as The Carter Sisters, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin. The five-member, all-female cast characterizes their roles with vim and vigor.

Peter Kalivas created Missing You, a beautiful and passionate triple duet for both stand-up and sit-down dancers. The piece has been re-staged for this concert as a double duet, artfully showcasing the translations that occur between the stand-up and sit-down dancer.

Mark Tomasic’s Concerto DW, always a crowd pleaser, features three concerti of Vivaldi’s beloved Four Seasons with choreography that is lively, sustained, and dynamic. The concert will close with the late Donald McKayle’s Far East of the Blues which is one of his final pieces that further established his legacy as a pioneer in ethnically and racially inclusive dance. The piece originally premiered with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra live on the State Theatre stage at Playhouse Square with the full Dancing Wheels Company.


Dancing Wheels President/Founding Artistic Director, Mary Verdi-Fletcher said, “It is a great honor to be invited to take part in such an important festival. Our work as an international touring company has allowed us to open the doors to arts access for many who would not otherwise have the inspiration, direction, or know-how to do so. Opportunities like this are central to our mission and at the heart of our passion.” Verdi-Fletcher continued, “Countries with a more recent history of providing equitable rights and opportunities for people with disabilities are making great progress toward inclusivity in all arenas, including in the arts. Performances like ours prove to be eye-opening and transformative experiences for audience members.”

Funding for this historic tour was made possible by the generous support from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State, Beijing Embassy. The Company is proud to be represented by KMP, an international artist representative company.


East Meet West… A Tale of Two Cities

Upon their return from China, Dancing Wheels Company members will set to work choreographing their own pieces based on their experiences in China, and drawing additional inspiration from an exhibit of visual art created by Liu Wei entitled Invisible Cities. Mr. Wei is a popular, Beijing-based modern artist whose installation will be featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art (moCa) in University Circle.

The Dancing Wheels Company members will unveil their new dance works during a concert: East Meets West…A Tale of Two Cities at moCa Cleveland on December 12 at 7:30 p.m.