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Dancing Conversation: Allies in Action!
Dancing Conversation: Allies in Action!

Mon, May 20


NCCAkron's YouTube Channel

Dancing Conversation: Allies in Action!

Join NCCAkron for a conversation on queerness and disability in choreography with President/Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher (Sagamore Hills, OH) of Dancing Wheels Company, and choreographers Alexis Diggs (Dayton, OH), Tiffany Mills (Brooklyn, NY), and Mark Tomasic (Los Angeles, CA).

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Time & Location

May 20, 2024, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT

NCCAkron's YouTube Channel

About the Event

Join NCCAkron for a conversation on queerness and disability in choreography with President/Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher of Dancing Wheels Company, and choreographers Alexis Diggs, Tiffany Mills, and Mark Tomasic. 

NCCAkron Executive/Artistic Director Christy Bolingbroke hosts a conversation on queerness and disability in choreography with President/Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher (Sagamore Hills, OH) of Dancing Wheels Company, and the three guest choreographers invited to make new works for their 43rd Anniversary event “Allies in Action!” – Alexis Diggs (Dayton, OH), Tiffany Mills (Brooklyn, NY), and Mark Tomasic (Los Angeles, CA).

Dancing Conversations are free public events that locate dance among broader topics and offer an opportunity to demonstrate the aesthetic range, power, and possibilities of dance. Public programs and events like these are made possible with support from the Ohio Arts Council, the GAR Foundation, and the Akron Community Foundation. The establishment and general operation of NCCAkron is made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

About the Artists

Mary Verdi-Fletcher (Sagamore Hills, OH) is the President/Founding Artistic Director of Dancing Wheels Company & School. Ms. Verdi-Fletcher has been the world’s first and foremost professional wheelchair dancers, she has worked and studied with such esteemed artists a pioneering force in the development and success of physically integrated dance for nearly 4 decades. She has performed for audiences of more than 5 million since the inception of the Company and is responsible for the commission of over 65 works in the Company’s current repertory. Ms. Verdi-Fletcher created the multi-arts Dancing Wheels School in 1990. Attracting students from around the globe, the school is considered the worldwide center for physically integrated dance & arts access. As an educator, Mary has conducted master classes and lectures and has consulted with notable arts institutions across several continents. Also a tireless arts administrator and advocate, Mary has helped develop state and national programs for arts and disability service organizations and has worked to help to pass significant pieces of legislation. Her efforts have paved the way for others in their quest for full and equal access. Mary is a recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize, OhioDance Award for contribution to dance in Ohio, Governor’s Award for Arts Education in Ohio and the Trustee Award for contributions to dance from DanceUSA. She has served on the Executive Board of Directors of DanceUSA for 6 years and is a member of the ADA Cleveland committee.

Alexis Diggs (Dayton, OH) is a 24-year-old independent artist from Dayton, Ohio. She is a 2023 Black Midwest Initiative fellow, a Culture Works Artist Opportunity Grantee, and an Allegro Grant recipient. A former Doug Varone Devices choreographer and Sarasota Contemporary Dance Company Rising Choreographer, Lex has created and presented works in Cleveland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York City, Florida, and the greater Dayton area. She is a part of the Jacob’s Pillow 2023-2024 Curriculum In Motion Institute Cohort. She has been on the teaching faculty for Ohio University Summer Dance, Ohio Dance Festival, Miami Valley Ballet Theater, and Jeraldyne’s School of Dance, as well as a classroom instructor for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Education Outreach program. Her central artistic mission is to create and be a part of work that provokes thought, feeds the soul, and ignites a desire to learn, love, and share with the collective.

Tiffany Mills (Brooklyn, NY) is the artistic director, choreographer, and founder of the NYC-based Tiffany Mills Company (2000-present). Joining Lewis & Clark College as the Director of Dance in 2024, Mills returns to her Oregon roots and embraces a bi-costal presence. As a creator of dance-theater, Mills’ work centers on human relationships, is grounded in partnering/improvisation, and is fueled by collaboration across mediums. She collaborates with artists from various disciplines and backgrounds to viscerally, aesthetically, and intellectually stimulate a wide-ranging audience. Her company’s recent works have been presented at: National Sawdust, LaMaMa, The Flea, and BAM Fisher. National highlights: PICA’s TBA Festival (OR), Wexner Center (OH), ENT Center (CO), Contemporary Dance Theater/NPN (OH), Jacob’s Pillow (MA), Dance Place (DC), and Austin Dance Festival (TX). NYC highlights: Guggenheim Museum/Works & Process, Duke on 42 Street, Symphony Space, Lincoln Center/Out-of-Doors, Dancing in the Streets, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Danspace Project City/Dans, Dance Theater Workshop, PS 122, Joyce SoHo, and Movement Research. International highlights: Russia, Italy, Mexico and Canada. Select residencies: Artpark (NY), NYU’s Tisch Summer Dance Festival (NY), National Center for Choreography (OH), CUNY Dance Initiative (NY), BAM/PDP, Baryshnikov Arts Center (NY), Jacob’s Pillow (MA), Joyce (NY), LMCC Swing Space (NY), Bogliasco/Jerome Robbins Foundation (Italy). Funding highlights: Harkness Foundation, NYC DCA, NYSCA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, NET/TEN, O’Donnell Green Foundation, Doris Duke Foundation, Dance/NYC Coronavirus Dance Relief Fund, New Music USA, Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Commissioning highlights: Artpark (NY), Dancing Wheels (OH), Ormao Dance Company (CO), and 10 Hairy Legs (NJ). Mills has taught extensively at universities and festivals nationally and internationally. Her company also conducts summer partnering and improvisation intensive and pop-up workshops. Mills recent endeavor is filmmaking. Her first dance film was selected for screenings in the USA, Turkey, India, Italy, and France. Mills received her MFA in Dance (Choreography) at Ohio State University and her BA in Dance at the University of Oregon Honors College.

Mark Tomasic (Los Angeles, CA) has danced principal and featured roles in the masterworks of such notable choreographers as Martha Graham, Donald McKayle, Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Sean Curran, May O’Donnell, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Mauricio Wainrot, Flemming Flindt, Talley Beatty, and Agnes de Mille throughout his performing career of over 20 years. As a choreographer, Mark has created works for numerous dance companies, colleges, and universities. Mark has worked extensively in the field of physically integrated dance with the Dancing Wheels Company & School, one of the premier arts and disability organizations in the United States. Serving as Artistic Advisor to the Company, Mark travels nationally and internationally to teach physically integrated dance to students and professionals alike and is the author of the inclusive dance training manual, “Physically Integrated Dance: The Dancing Wheels Comprehensive Guide for Teachers, Choreographers, and Students of Mixed Abilities.” Mark’s choreographic work for Dancing Wheels has been presented across the United States and internationally. Mark is currently Chair of the Dance Department of Santa Monica College. At SMC, he has been awarded recognition as “Equity Champion” and “Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year” (2018-19). Mark holds an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine.

Photo Credits (left to right, top to bottom): Mary Verdi-Fletcher (Portraits with Pride), Alexis Diggs (courtesy of the artist), Tiffany Mills (Julie Lemberger), and Mark Tomasic (Micah Dahlberg).

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