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Dance Education Blog

NDEO's "Dance Education" Blog features articles written by NDEO members about dance and dance education topics as well as periodic updates on NDEO programs and services. This is a FREE resource available to ALL.


Performing Arts Organizations Spotlight Part 3: Ballet Vero Beach, Ink Cares, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance

Welcome to Part 3 of NDEO’s blog series highlighting Performing Arts Organizations who are institutional members of NDEO, and celebrating their contributions to the field of dance education.

a photo of young students in a classroom with their arms excitedly above their heads

In dance performing arts organizations, creativity and passion come together to uplift communities and celebrate cultural diversity. These institutions serve as beacons of artistic expression, providing accessible avenues for individuals of all backgrounds to engage with the transformative power of dance. From local dance companies dedicated to preserving traditional folk dances to urban youth ensembles empowering underserved communities, each organization plays a vital role in fostering inclusivity, resilience, and social cohesion.

Join us for a glimpse into the world of performing arts organizations, exploring the profound impact they have on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. In this blog post we will hear from three performing arts organizations, and learn more about their mission, community outreach initiatives, and other projects they have been up to. These submissions were collected through an open call to NDEO Performing Arts Organization Members.

Ballet Vero Beach (pictured above & right) in Vero Beach, FL, aims to promote dance as a universal language locally and globally through professional performances, presentations by national and international artists, and educational and community engagement programs. Their vision is to make professional dance accessible and integral to their community while upholding commitments to artistic quality, community engagement, and cultural relevance.

Ink Cares dba Dance Ink in Pittsburgh, PA, fosters community through the transformative power of performing arts, believing in its ability to enrich lives, promote community vitality, and foster empathy and resilience. Their mission centers on using the arts to inspire boundless possibilities and promote unity and equality.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) (pictured left) in Denver, CO, uses dance to honor the African Diaspora, champion social justice, and celebrate life's complexity. Serving Denver and beyond, CPRD offers diverse cultural education programs, including dance ensembles, a year-round dance academy, and arts-in-education initiatives reaching over 20,000 students. As a non-profit organization, CPRD promotes unity and equality through innovative programs and community outreach efforts, welcoming diverse audiences to engage with their performances and educational offerings.

Driven by a commitment to community empowerment, these dance organizations extend far beyond the stage, offering educational programs, outreach initiatives, and collaborative partnerships that enrich the lives of individuals and communities alike. Through their dedication to serving marginalized populations, promoting cross-cultural exchange, and championing the value of creative expression, these community-based dance organizations inspire unity, resilience, and a shared sense of belonging.

a group of young students standing around their desks with their arms in various positions like they are mid movement

Ballet Vero Beach (pictured left) is currently partnering with a phenomenal early childhood school in our area, Childcare Resources. Dancers and staff have been embedded weekly in their 4 year old classroom all year. BVB assists CCR's behavioral and mental health interventionists in catching developmental delays earlier through creative movement classes.

Ink Cares offers enrichment programs that are serving over 100 students in grades K-12. Their organization brings the performing arts into schools to make the arts more accessible. They recently took their performance of The Nutcracker to a school where there are very few arts offerings in their community. The impact was profound. From the feedback from the students, to the teachers, to the principals, they felt the difference they were making by bringing live performance to children who otherwise may never have that opportunity.

At Cleo Parker Robinson, Principal Meredity Leighty of BelArts School of Arts in Lakewood, Colorado, orchestrated a vibrant first day of school experience for around 100 students from neighboring schools that closed down, including dance classes and a school-wide barbecue (pictured below). In addition to her role as principal, Leighty also serves as the Mayor of Northglenn, demonstrating her commitment to both education and community leadership. Her involvement in the 2023 Dancing With The Denver Stars Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Gala, alongside her daughter, exemplifies her dedication to supporting arts education through fundraising initiatives. Leighty's longstanding partnership with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance extends beyond the gala, as she has welcomed their Arts-In-Education programs to BelArts for several years. Local media coverage captured the spirit of her welcoming dance, showcasing the enthusiastic participation of students and parents just days after her gala performance.

a large group of people gathered in front of a basketball court and tent in a school parking lot

The above are just a few examples of the work that these organizations have engaged in. Among these community outreach projects, these organizations also work to support emerging dancers, educators, and choreographers, and provide support for them to develop their skills and showcase their talents.

Ballet Vero Beach supports emerging dancers through our unique Fellowship Initiative for Dancers. The program is changing the way young people become professional dancers. Working with Indian River State College and The Learning Alliance (a local literacy services organization), Ballet Vero Beach has established a unique program that combines professional performance experience with the company, quality higher education with Indian River State College, and unmatched training in arts integration, arts literacy, and the science of teaching with The Learning Alliance. At the end of the two-year program, fellows emerge with an Associate or Bachelor Degree from Indian River State College, résumé building professional experience with Ballet Vero Beach, ancillary education from The Learning Alliance, and hands-on teaching experience provided through Ballet Vero Beach’s education and engagement initiatives. Successful candidates demonstrate the ability to thrive in both the college and company environments offered by this unique program. The Fellowship Initiative For Dancers is free for both Florida residents and International Students. Ballet Vero Beach reimburses non Florida resident domestic students at the Indian River State College in state tuition rate. Books/materials are covered for all students. Candidates may choose from nearly any major at IRSC, however applicants seeking to major in Education (Early Childhood/Elementary/Special/Exceptional Tracks) are prioritized for admission.

Ink Cares (pictured below) since opening in August 2020 offers master classes, workshops, choreography projects, and various scholarship opportunities.The company fosters inclusivity by collaborating with artists from various backgrounds, showcasing a wide array of artistic styles that resonate with a broad audience and celebrate cultural diversity. Ink Cares is committed to accessibility, providing resources and support to marginalized communities, such as sponsoring art programs in underprivileged schools, to make art and self-expression accessible to everyone.

a group of students in an array of dance costumes face a crowd of elementary age students after a performance

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Academy offers classes from 1 to 101. For students who begin at a younger age, they may ignite a passion for dance into a professional career track via audition and membership into Junior Youth and Youth Ensembles. These Ensembles perform in Spring and Fall Showcases, and the students are also invited to the stage in the seasonal 10-performance holiday run of “Granny Dances To A Holiday Drum.” Granny is a CPRD-developed original global holiday revue of a dozen traditions and is performed the first three weekends of December. It has become a large community tradition with families involved throughout an eight-week rehearsal and performance schedule. Currently, one of our CPRD-grown students, Max Nelson-Steinhoff, is in his sophomore year as a dance major, after growing up in the CPRD Academy. He attends the University of Missouri Dance Conservatory program at Kansas City, and is a student of Professor Gary Abbott, who was a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in the 1980s. Professor Abbott also founded the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre based in Chicago, and is a 2023 Guggenheim Award recipient. In addition to this dance lineage, choreography is developed within the CPRD Ensemble and Cleo II (the second company), and presented in Cleo On Cleo each spring; this is a performance of choreographed works by members of both Ensembles set upon fellow Ensemble members.

These incredible organizations are imperative to the continued growth of dance education across the country, and in making dance accessible to ALL. NDEO is grateful for the membership of the performing art organizations mentioned in this blog, and beyond. This is the third and final installment of NDEO's Performing Arts Organization series.

To read part one, please click here. To read part two, please click here.

To learn more about the performing arts organizations mentioned in this post, please visit the following websites:

Ballet Vero Beach

Ink Cares

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance

Photo credits in order of appearance: by Zach Reese for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 2020, following two courtesy of Ballet Vero Beach, by PB Smith for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, courtesy of Ink Cares Staff & Families

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