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National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities

Mary Verdi-Fletcher

Mary Verdi-Fletcher

Mary Verdi-Fletcher is principal dancer and Founding Director of Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels. Born with spina bifida, Mary founded Dancing Wheels in 1980 as a means for people with disabilities to explore the world of dance. Since the establishment of Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels, Ms.Verdi-Fletcher’s principal roles have included: Heaven? (versions one and two), Flashback, Gypsy, Steppin’ Out, Blues Bands Above, Groovin’, Cleveland Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Guardian Angels, Trail of Tears, Action, Egress, May Ring, Chicken Lips, Koto Vivaldi I, II & III, Picture Imperfect, and Tammoriata and Tarantella del Sei Cento. Today Mary is also President of Professional Flair, a not-for-profit arts/disability organization which she and a Board of Directors established in 1989. Ms. Verdi is the 1990 winner of the "Outstanding Young Clevelanders Award," the 1991 recipient of the "ORACLE Merit Award" for outstanding Educational and Outreach Programming, and the 1992 Lakeland Community College "Woman of Achievement Award," as well as various other awards. In September 1997, Ms. Verdi and the Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels were honored with the 1997 National Rehabilitation Awareness Award in recognition of their work with persons with disabilities. In March, 1998, Mary and Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels were featured on the ABC special, Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope.

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