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Education Station: Cleveland dance company transforming students' lives through dance

Inlet Dance Theater – which had a tough time at the height of COVID – now has a new location to continue its legacy of connecting students with dance.

CLEVELAND — Modern Dance, non-traditional partnering, diverse and thought-provoking improv. This is Inlet Dance Theater

In March of 2020, when everyone's world turned upside down, a heartbroken Inlet had to cancel the final leg of its first national tour. Fast-forward to today, and the Cleveland dance company is better than ever – breaking a proverbial leg in a brand new location and continuing its commitment to community.

"Dance, like any other discipline, has things inside of it that are useful," Scranton Elementary School Dance Teacher Joshua Brown explained, "not just in dance, but also in other areas in life."

In its very first permanent home, nestled in Clark-Fulton's Pivot Center, Inlet teaches workshops and dance classes to all ages while building partnerships with schools like Scranton Elementary. Students recently got to see a day in the life of their dance teacher Mr. Brown, who also works with Inlet.

"Coming here, they get to see what he's been teaching, but on a professional level, and see different ways they can express themselves," Scranton Dean of Engagement Ryan Hough said. "Having this in their community is just super important for our kids."

Award-winning choreographer and educator Bill Wade – who founded Inlet in 2001 – spent years using dance to transform the lives of at-risk youth at the Cleveland School of the Arts, operating on a core belief that dance can bring about personal growth and development.

"That's why doing programming in this building is so important to these kids: To see something they've never seen before," Wade told 3News. "There's nothing like watching a young person see something and they have that 'Ah ha!' moment, or they're in class or rehearsal with you and they figure out something and they learn that they have the 'thing.'"

Inlet hopes students watching their dance teacher in action will a spark interest in a few of them and put them on a path toward finding themselves through dance.

"You don't know what you don't know until you get exposed to what you don't know," Wade said.

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