Why Inlet? — Ashley Champa

IMG_4397Inlet is in the middle of its 17th season! There are many reasons to celebrate the life of the organization, and we are going to start by celebrating the lives that have been impacted by Inlet Dance Theatre. This article is “Why Inlet?” because no matter why, how, or when people were involved with Inlet, they have a story to tell and an experience worth acknowledging.

This month, meet Ashley Champa, a senior at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School in Chardon, OH, and is a longtime student of Inlet Dance Theatre’s Summer Dance Intensive and Student Ensemble Program at The Music Settlement:

I’ve chosen Inlet as my place of training for 6 years now because I know there is not another company quite like them. Inlet isn’t your average modern dance company; they are a family. At Inlet, you’re never just a number. In addition, they will tell you they take their craft very seriously but not themselves, and they push for you to do the same. At Inlet, there is never a dull moment. Each day is full of laughter and smiles that never leave your face while learning way more than you ever expected you could. In my perspective, the laughter along with the relationships you make makes the learning process easier and more fun. Inlet expects you to work hard but they do it out of love because they want to encourage you to do better and be the best you can be. Inlet has helped me get to a point where I feel nothing is impossible. It’s just that some things will take more time. Boundaries are pushed and process is made.

I have had a lot of personal success dancing with Inlet which is another reason why I have stuck around for so long. Throughout each summer I can feel myself getting not only stronger and more flexible, but more confident. I’ve built bonds with a lot of other people with the same goal as me through working together as a team. I know that they really want me to succeed just as much as I do. 

 Inlet Dance Theatre gives you numerous opportunities to dance not only with and for each other but also at many events. In my past years at Inlet I have had the opportunity to dance at the lantern festival at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art’s 100-year anniversary, Cleveland Public Theatre, Cain Park and many more. My proudest performance with Inlet Dance Theatre though was when they gave their Summer Dance Intensive students the opportunity to perform at the Republican National Convention at Public Square in Downtown Cleveland in 2016. That is definitely an experience not many people can say they got to perform at. It was also an eye-opening experience because on our side there were people working together to entertain and create art while the other side of the square was a very different story.

 My proudest educational moments are always in Non-Traditional Partnering when I achieve something I would have never thought I could do. Inlet members always tell you to just say yes and trust. When you finally do just that, the sky becomes the limit.

 I encourage everyone to take a class at Inlet with an open mind because I guarantee it’s not like anything you have ever done before. I truly love it more than I can explain. Once you try Inlet, you won’t want to leave, EVER!

Ashley Champa 


Why Inlet? – Maribeth Van Hecke

Inlet is in the middle of its 17th season! There are many reasons to celebrate the life of the organization, and we are going to start by celebrating the lives that have been impacted by Inlet Dance Theatre. This article is “Why Inlet?” because no matter why, how, or when people were involved with Inlet, they have a story to tell and an experience worth acknowledging.

20170828-20170828-5S4A8245.jpgHere is Maribeth Van Hecke, a veteran dancer of the Inlet Trainee & Apprentice Program!

“When I left undergrad I was looking for an experience and a community that would continue my growth as a performer, artist and individual. As a modern dance student interested in concert dance work, I highly valued collaboration, being part of the creation process and learning how to create work that moves audiences. Even more, equally a writer and a dancer, I was interested in lacing scripts into large productions, and work that defied genre. At the time, these goals sounded vague. I had intentions to move west, or maybe stay near my family in Chicago, or better yet stay in West Michigan where many of my friends were.

So after graduation, when I came to visit my best friend who lived in Cleveland and we decided to go to the Inlet audition, I was not expecting to call my mom that next afternoon to say, “Mom, I think I’m moving to Cleveland.” Better yet, I was not expecting to get the email that I was accepted into the program when I was spending the weekend in Portland, OR.

I am now in my second year of the Inlet Trainee and Apprentice Program (ITAP), and when I walk into the Inlet studio, I am not only welcomed into a world class dance environment, but I am re-welcomed into a family that is continually growing. At its root, Inlet Dance Theatre is an organization that creates and performs professionally, works with students of all neighborhoods and engages with its community like a family, using the strengths of each member to further all people.

As a member of the training program and a valued member of the family, I get to be a part of these goals week by week by training in the studio next to my mentors, assisting in outreach classes around the city, and performing with my family of dancers I have made through collaborating, creating and moving audiences together with an expectation that my work is furthering other people when I do it well. In all of that, the family of Inlet pushes me to train harder and move up faster, create material that produces clear ideas, and perform at a level that I did not have access to while training in undergrad. I am watching the creation of large productions be made from the ground up, and I get to be a part of it.

One of my favorite pieces to perform is 3 (Women), which is a trio inside the evening length work Easter Island Memoirs. This piece is about a community of women who are continually leaning on and pulling on each other, and everything they do is connected to one another. We have had the opportunity to perform this multiple times this season, and it is one of my favorites because it is a great representation of a healthy community and support system. Being inside of one is incredibly life-giving, but to showcase the effectiveness of this kind of community can be important for an audience to see and understand. When an audience can witness that kind of love and understanding, they have a better chance of creating it for themselves.

It is taxing physically, mentally, spiritually, and of course financially to be a student of dance. But when I chose Inlet, it was because I believed that the mission was bigger than I was, and that I believed that I could be a valuable member of the family. If nothing else is clear, there is a clear call when you walk into the Inlet family: that we are here to serve people through dance.”

Maribeth Van Hecke


What is Next in 2018?

2018 has started off great for Inlet, and it just keep getting better (and busier)! We are thrilled to share some of our upcoming performances with you as their is DEFINITELY something for everybody. We hope to see you in the audience!


Inlet’s Katie McGaha & Kevin Parker performing “10.”                                                                           Photo: Clark Scott

The Alabama Dance Festival is one of the largest gatherings of dancers and dance enthusiasts in the Southeast. All traveling to Birmingham, Alabama, dancers can participate in master classes with world-renowned teachers, audition opportunities, teacher training, networking, and enjoy performances by regional dance groups and a guest company. This year’s featured guest company was Ballet Memphis, co-presented with UAB’s Alys Stephens Center. Inlet’s Katie McGaha and Kevin Parker performed “10” in the New Works Concert on Friday, Jan. 19 in the Alabama School of Fine Art’s Dorothy Jamison Day Theatre. Then, Founder and Exec/Artistic Director Bill Wade taught several master classes in Erick Hawkins release technique, Non-Traditional Partnering, and Improvisation to students of all ages!


thThe very next week, Inlet’s Dominic Moore-Dunson with Bill Wade and Managing Director Libby Koba traveled to Philadelphia for the annual International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) conference,  Jan. 23 – 27. IPAY strives to create professional and education opportunities for key stakeholders in North America (artists, agents, and presenters) to engage around support of meaningful performing arts experiences for young audiences. IPAY believes in a world in which artistic excellence and innovation in performing arts for young audiences are nurtured, supported, and expanded. Here, Dominic, Bill, & Libby network with professionals all around the world sharing Inlet’s artwork.



“Motherless Child,” Inlet Trainee & Apprentice Program, 2017.

Monday, Jan. 29, Inlet’s Trainee & Apprentice Program will perform an Exposure Concert for the students at Franklin D. Roosevelt Academy branch of Boys & Girls Cleveland in the Glenville neighborhood. Not only does this provide another performance opportunity for the students in Inlet’s program, but the students from the Boys & Girls Club see what it’s like to transition from high school into a professional training program.

unnamed-1As you may have already heard, Inlet has the utmost honor and privilege of performing the WORLD-PREMIERE of “What Do You Do With An Idea?” on March 21 at 7:00 pm at Playhouse Square’s Ohio State Theatre. This premiere is based off the NY Times bestselling children’s book, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom (©Compendium, Inc). Tickets are only $10 and it’s showing 1 NIGHT ONLY. Grab your tickets today! For more information, click here.



“Hotu Matua” (excerpt from “Easter Island Memoirs”) Arts in August, 2016

Next, on Apr. 12, Inlet will be traveling to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire to perform in the Kjer Theatre and 7:30 pm as part of the universities Artists Series. TICKETS are $17 for the general public, $15 for UW System Faculty/Staff  and Age 62 & Over, $7 UW System Student and Age 17 & Under. The following day, Inlet will teach master classes on the campus for the students in the universities dance program. The Artists Series is funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. Wisconsin Public Radio and WHYS Radio have contributed generous promotional support.



“3 Women” (excerpt from “Easter Island Memoirs”).

Lastly, Inlet will be back at Cleveland Public Theatre for the annual dance series, DanceWorks ’18 from May 31 – June 2. Every year, Cleveland Public Theatre welcomes Northeast Ohio’s most adventurous contemporary dance companies to the Gordon Square Theatre stage for five weeks of single and double bill performances. This year, Inlet will be premiering 2 new works, original choreography by Founder & Exec/Artistic Director Bill Wade. Tickets range from $12 – $30.


Spring Education Exposure Concerts


“A Close Shave” being performed at FDR Academy, Jan. 10.

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, Inlet performed an exposure concert at Franklin D. Roosevelt Academy for the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland and then again on Jan. 22 at Cleveland Municipal School District’s Walton Elementary. This will start two residencies where Inlet company members Dominic Moore-Dunson and Emily Stonecipher will lead the students at Walton Elementary on Mondays. And then, the students at FDR Academy will be shuttled to The Music Settlement for connections with Inlet company members Dominic Moore-Dunson and Erin Pennebaker.


Inlet’s Dominic Moore-Dunson and Kevin Parker at Akron School of the Arts.

As a result of Akron School of the Arts having a dance department that explores becoming a dance maker throughout the students 4 year commitment to the program, Inlet decided instead of conducting a “dance residency” that focuses on the technical aspects of our art form we would focus on creating a “choreography residency”. As recipients of the Knights Arts Challenge from the Knight Foundation, Inlet Members Dominic Moore-Dunson and Kevin Parker are working with the students to explore making dance through the lens of story-telling. They are collaborating with each class to create a narrative based piece for their annual spring dance concert. In addition, the class is being given the assignment in assisting Dominic and Kevin in the creation of their evening-length work, The Black Card Project. Dominic and Kevin are (lead by Inlet Founder & Exec/Artistic Director Bill Wade) creating a collaborative work with the Dance for Athletes course, taking their natural sports driven movement and turning into a piece of modern dance. These connections began Jan. 10 and will run through March, 2018.

Comparable to the Akron School of the Arts residency, Dominic Moore-Dunson will be teaching 7th & 8th grade students at Miller-South Visual Performing Arts School in Akron starting on Feb. 5. To kick off these connections, Inlet will be performing an Exposure Concert for the students at the school. One of the goals with this residency is to begin teaching the Miller South students fundamental choreographic tools that will set them up to enter Akron School of the Art’s dance maker based high school curriculum. This will assist in creating a bridge between programs and potentially spark the next generation of Akron based dance makers. During the residency, Dominic will be given studio time to finish the creation of the evening length work, The Black Card Project. To celebrate Miller South’s birthday, Dominic will also be performing with the students (as an alumni) as part of their annual spring concert.


Inlet performing an excerpt from “Building CLE” at Judson Park, Jan. 17.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, Inlet performed for the residents at Judson Park kicking off the Ohio Arts Council sponsored Creative Aging Ohio residency project, “Building CLE.” Inlet will perform again on Feb. 1 for the residents at Judson Manor. Last year, Inlet premiered the first 30 minutes of what will be an evening-length show. This year’s residency project is focused on finishing the project and then premiering the entire work at the newly renamed Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Throughout the next few months, Inlet company members Joshua Brown, Katie McGaha, and Nicole Kapantas will assist Bill Wade at both Judson Park and Judson Manor collecting stories, interviews, and more from the residents who ultimately helped shaped what Cleveland is today.


Inlet Apprentice Emma McBride with Company Member Joshua Brown performing excerpts form “What Do You Do With An Idea?” at the Bop Stop.

Inlet has also kicked off the Early Learning Initiative (ELI) program for Lorain County School children at BOP STOP at The Music Settlement.  Inlet shows excerpts from the work in progress, “What Do You Do With An Idea?”, followed by a movement class. This is Inlet’s 2nd year of leading this residency!

In addition to all of these new connections, Inlet is still finishing out some of the Fall Education Residencies:

  1. Mondays – The Music Settlement teaching open level Erick Hawkins Release Technique, Non-Traditional Partnering, and Improvisation
  2. Tuesdays – Newton D. Baker In-School for grades K-3 and After-School for grades 4-8
  3. Tuesdays – The Music Settlement with the Dance Explorers ages 3-5
  4. Saturdays – The Music Settlement teaching students ages 3-11 various techniques and movement classes

In the spring, Inlet will hold its annual Education Matinee where the student participants in these residencies come together and perform the various exercises, games, choreographed dances, etc. that they have learned throughout the year for friends and family!


What Do You Do With An Idea? World Premiere

unnamed-1Inlet Dance Theatre’s “What Do You Do With An Idea?” is a dance theatre adaptation of the New York Times bestselling children’s book by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (©Compendium, Inc). The production is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. It is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, or too difficult.

Using Inlet’s distinct aesthetic, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” was choreographed by the company’s Founder and Executive/Artistic Director, Bill Wade, in collaboration with the cast. The original score is by Jeremy Allen with Dee Perry’s voice providing narration. Scenic design is by Ian Petroni and costuming by Kristin Wade. The show is coproduced via the LAUNCH performance creation residency program of the Community Engagement & Education Department of Playhouse Square (Cleveland, OH).


Inlet’s Kevin Parker and Katie McGaha as characters based on the NY Times bestselling children’s book, “What Do You Do With An Idea?”


Buy your TICKETS today! They are only $10 so make sure you purchase soon.

Inlet Dance Theatre’s

“What Do You Do With An Idea?” Premiere 

Where: Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square

When: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 7:00 P.M. 


Educational Holiday Showcases

This holiday season, two of Inlet’s educational residencies held showcases where the student performed for friends, family, fellow classmates, teachers, and staff!


Boys & Girls Club students performing at the Spotlight Winter Showcase, Dec. 8, 2017.

The first performance was the Boys & Girls Club Spotlight Winter Showcase on December 8 at the Cuyahoga Community College Auditorium, 5:30 pm. The students in the various Boys & Girls Clubs around Cleveland came together to showcase all the different activities they have been involved with so far this academic year. The students who studied with Inlet Dance Theatre’s Dominic Moore-Dunson, Emily Stonecipher, and Apprentice Amy Larson performed a piece they created collaboratively based on Improvisation exercises, The Lonely Seek, The Compassionate Find. Then, Inlet’s Emily Stonecipher and Katie McGaha performed the duet, Doppelgänger. 


Newton D. Baker Culminating Arts Performance, Dec. 19, 2017. 

The second performance will be an in-school Culminating Arts Performance at Newton D. Baker School on December 19. This all day event was inspired by neighborhood and community. Inlet’s Katie McGaha and Nicole Kapantas taught grades 4–8 Improvisational exercises to enhance their imagination and find a creative voice. The students will all perform the various exercises and the 7th grade class will perform a piece they created collaboratively, A Day In The Life Of Me. Then, students who were in the after-school program, lead by Inlet’s Elizabeth Pollert and Emily Stonecipher, will perform a Non-Traditional Partnering sketch, The Park Comes Alive At Night. In addition to dance, the students from all grades will show visual art, choir, theatre, music, and more! Katie McGaha and Emily Stonecipher will also perform Doppelgänger for the Newton D. Baker friends, family, staff, and students.


Press Release: Inlet Gains Managing Director

IMG_2782_800Cleveland, Ohio ( December 19 , 2017) – Inlet Dance Theatre is pleased to announce that Libby Koba, who served as the Company Manager for two years, has assumed the rol e of Managing Director, effective November 1 5 . The new position is made possible with support provided by The George Gund Foundation.

Mrs. Koba relocated to Cleveland in 2015 from New York City. Libby is a former dancer who was most recently the Company Manager for Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion (NYC). She previously has worked at Joyce SoHo (The Joyce Theater Foundation, NYC), Cross – Cultural Solu tions (New Rochelle, NY), Dance/MetroDC (Washington DC) and EDGEWORKS Dance Theatre (Washington DC). She has a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Management from N ew Y ork U niversity and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her skills include tour management, company administration, marketing, development, and employee supervision, all of which have proven to be of tremendous benefit to Inlet Dance Theatre.

In her capacity as Managing Director, Mrs. Koba will assume full administrative responsibilities for the company , including overseeing the strategic plan while focusing on short – and long – term growth strategies related to performance, education, and special events. She will also continue to focus on cultiva ting and stewarding relationships with local, regional, and national venues and promoters to realize touring and commission opportunities.

Executive/Artistic Director, Bill Wade, who founded the company in 2001, stated that “Having a full – time Managing Director on staff will enable the Executive/Artistic Director to concentrate fully on the business of Inlet Dance Theatre through new work creation, more performances, and augmenting our education capacity in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. We are thrilled that we are able to expand the many talents which Libby brings to our team through this new opportunity.”

About Inlet Dance Theatre:

 Inlet Dance Theatre is one of the region’s most exciting professional contemporary dance companies. Founded in 2001 by Founder and Executive/Artistic Director Bill Wade, Inlet embodies his longstanding belief that dance viewing, training and performing experiences serve as tools to bring about personal growth and development. Inlet’s collaborative artistic staff build the company’s solid reputation for uplifting individuals and engaging new audiences via performances and education programming. In contrast to an industry where people are often used to further dance, Inlet Dance Theatre is committed to using dance to further people . Discover for yourself what makes Inlet unique.

About The George Gund Foundation:

The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 as a private, nonprofit institution with the sole purpose of contributing to human well – being and the progress of society.

Over the years, program objectives and emphases have been modified to meet the changing opportunities and problems of our socie ty, but the foundation’s basic goal of advancing human welfare remains constant.


Media Contact:

Libby Koba, Inlet Dance Theatre, 216 – 721 – 8580 , libby.koba@inletdancetheatre.org