BWW Reviews: Inlet Dance Educates in Collaboration with Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Bill Wade, Artistic Director and Founder of Inlet Dance, is first and foremost an educator. His unique approach to dance, and his role as a choreographer, are clearly evident at his rehearsals. As an observer, I was quickly swept up between the difference between Wade's approach and that of the traditional choreographer. Instead of operating as the total authority and developer of a dance number, as is the pattern of most choreographers, Wade is an advocate of collaboration.
The approach is based on his philosophy of "utilizing the art form of dance to bring about personal development in the lives of individuals through training and mentoring." He uses "dance as a vehicle to speak creatively about life and the issues we all face."
Thus, rather than telling his dancers what to do, he has established a format of safety and security where the performers feel free to make suggestions about everything from dance moves, to costumes, to hair styles, and props, in order to allow the group to work toward a final product that is theirs, not his.
It takes a secure person to allow ideas to be questioned and to turn over control to others. Wade is a model of compassion and purposefulness and creates a safe and probing place for his dancers. They feel comfortable to make suggestions, solve problems as individuals or in groups, and even disagree. The rehearsals are classrooms for learning creativity, problem solving, and a systems approach to developing the arts.
Wade founded Inlet after working as an artist in residence for the Cleveland School of the Arts where he founded the award winning YARD-Youth at Risk Dancing. He was recognized with the Coming Up Taller Award at the White House by the National Endowment for the Arts and the President's Committee for the Arts and Humanities for his efforts.
Prior to his eleven year CSA residency, Wade served as Artistic Director and dancer with Footpath Dance Company, a more traditional dance organization.
NATURE DISPLAYS, the company's recent dance concert, was developed in collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It reflects the museums current display, "Nature's Mating games: Beyond the Birds and the Bees." The exhibition was created with evolutionary biologists and animal behavior experts by the Natural History Museum in London, and offers a fascinating look at animal reproductive behavior.
Like the exhibit, Inlet's program was a combination of beauty, humor and creativity, which combined selections from the company's repertory with a display inspired piece.