Dancing Wheels

Overview

Author Patricia McMahon takes us backstage with the Dancing Wheels dance company and into the lives of two young dancers—Jenny, a “sit-down” dancer, and her partner Devin, a “stand-up” dancer. She also introduces readers to the woman who founded the company, Mary Verdi-Fletcher. Mary was born with spina bifida but always dreamed of becoming a dancer. When she grew up, she not only fulfilled that dream, she made it possible for others to follow in her path.
Photographer John Godt...

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Overview

Author Patricia McMahon takes us backstage with the Dancing Wheels dance company and into the lives of two young dancers—Jenny, a “sit-down” dancer, and her partner Devin, a “stand-up” dancer. She also introduces readers to the woman who founded the company, Mary Verdi-Fletcher. Mary was born with spina bifida but always dreamed of becoming a dancer. When she grew up, she not only fulfilled that dream, she made it possible for others to follow in her path.
Photographer John Godt has captured the daily hard work and joyful moments in the studio as well as the incredible transformation of the dancers after months of preparation. Once they are onstage, a special, almost indescribable magic occurs—a dramatic choreography of wheels, arms, legs, color, costumes, lighting, music, and movement: the magic of Dancing Wheels.

Describes the creation, training, and performances of the dance troupe known as Dancing Wheels who incorporate the movements of dancers who dance standing up and those who are in wheelchairs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Just as dancing Wheels fosters trust and understanding between disabled and nondisabled participants, so McMahon’s book opens readers’ eyes to another dimension of dance and encourages the appreciation of desires and talents different form their own."—Booklist (10/1/00) Booklist, ALA

"An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the ‘disabled.’"—Kirkus Reviews (9/1/00) Kirkus Reviews

"This is an original addition to dance literature with the important added value of being part of the growing collection of books about children with special needs. This outstanding volume presents unique content in a lively, attractive format on a much-needed subject."—School Library Journal 12/00 School Library Journal

Children's Literature
A dance troupe inviting dancers in wheelchairs as well as stand-up dancers was the brainchild of Mary Verdi-Fletcher who was born in the 1950s with spina bifida. Mary grew up against the odds and the culture of her times believing that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to do. Little did her parents know that what Mary, who was born with a serious spinal column problem, would want to accomplish was ballet dancing. But she did. And the successes she had as a young dancer led her to open the world of dance to other young people in wheelchairs. This is the photo-essay of the Dancing Wheels dance company, the classes and workshops it offers to both stand-up and wheelchair dancers, the performers it trains and the performances it puts on. More than that, it is a tribute to one woman and her dreams and the perseverance it took to bring those dreams to reality. A study in the different abilities of people would be enriched by this book—as would any study that featured individuals pursuing their own "impossible" dreams. 2000, Houghton Mifflin. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Judy Katsh
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-This inspiring photo-essay shares the vision of Mary Verdi-Fletcher, creator of a children's dance troupe that blends "sit-down" dancers in wheelchairs with "stand-up" performers. The book follows the company from practice to opening day of "The Sorcerer's Apprentices." The full-color photographs capture the magical transformation of everyday children into stars of the stage. Godt also manages to show the warmth, determination, and enthusiasm generated in the classes. This is an original addition to dance literature with the important added value of being part of the growing collection of books about children with special needs. This outstanding volume presents unique content in a lively, attractive format on a much-needed subject.-Nora Jane Natke, Hooked on Books, Hollywood, FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A stereotype about people with disabilities is shattered by this introduction to a dance company known as Dancing Wheels, a group composed of "sit down" and "standup" dancers. The story begins with Mary FletcherVerdi, born with spina bifida, a condition that causes weakness in the legs and spine. Mary always wanted to dance, and, encouraged by a family who focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn't, she studied the art and eventually formed a mixed company, some who dance on their legs, and some who dance in wheelchairs. What she accomplished can be seen in this photo journal of the group's dance workshop in which beginners and experienced dancers study and rehearse. Along the way, McMahon (One Belfast Boy, 1999, etc.) intersperses the history of the group, some details about the dancers, their families, and the rehearsal process that leads up to the final performance. Three children are featured, Jenny a wheelchair dancer, Devin, her standup partner, and Sabatino, the young son of Mary's partner. The focus on these youngsters gives the reader a sense of their personalities and their lives with their families. Godt's (Listen for the Bus, not reviewed, etc.) color photographs detail every aspect of the story and show the dancers at home and in rehearsal, interacting with each other, having fun, and finally performaning. They convey the dancer's sense of joy as well as the commitment to the dance as an art form felt by the adult directors and teachers. An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the "disabled." (Nonfiction. 712)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395888896
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

John Godt is a professional photographer who lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife, Karen, and their daughter, Donovan.
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