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Toledo Ballet gala features performances by Dancing Wheels

The inclusive dance company for dancers of all abilities made a stop at Valentine Theatre, performing alongside members of Toledo Ballet.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Ballet took center stage at the Valentine Theatre. The group held a gala with its regular members but also featured some special guests. 

The Dancing Wheels is an inclusive dance company from Cleveland featuring differently-abled dancers like DeMarco Sleeper, who says there's a misconception disabled people can't dance.

"If I have a physical disability, there's a stigma of 'oh, there's no way your body can achieve the movement that's found in things like ballet, jazz and contemporary,'" Sleeper said.

Choreographer McKenzie Beaverson hopes audiences came away with a greater respect for dance.

"I hope they are encouraged and inspired and realize that dance IS for everybody. I've been watching rehearsals the last two days so I'm excited," Beaverson said.

Mary Verdi-Fletcher founded the group 41 years ago and says the understanding and appreciation of integrated dance has grown so much in the last few decades.

"It's amazing to me that it's now become something that people understand, and enjoy, and want to see more of," Verdi-Fletcher said.

And Toledo Ballet teacher Ann Heckler says the event is a way for dancers like Hunter Parks to show dancing isn't anything to be afraid of.

"If you watch Hunter perform or any of the other students that are in my adaptive dancing class, you won't see reservations or nervousness. You see joy to perform for others," Heckler said.

Toledo Ballet and the Dancing Wheels showed it doesn't matter who you are, you can still hold the stage.

If you'd like to know more about the Dancing Wheels, you can visit their website.


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