All About Dogs

Coming up May 8 at Sherwood Community Center, 3740 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax VA 22030: a wonderful free performance of ALL ABOUT DOGS, feature performers with and without disabilities celebrating the many ways dogs enhance our lives.

Celebrating the myriad ways dogs and their humans lift up, love and take care of one another, All About Dogs – staged this spring by the Mighty Voice Liberation Ensemble – explores dog-related employment opportunities for people with disability. The cast includes both professional performers and people living with intellectual and physical disability. Together they devised this original production, each contributing their unique perspectives.

WOOF: HOW WE BUILT THIS SHOW

“Our performance project began last fall with creative research – a series of rehearsals with dog-care professionals. We asked them what they like about their work and what skills it takes to be good at their job,” All About Dogs director Margot Greenlee explains. Among the professionals:

  • Dog therapy teams Terry Patton & Lulu and Kris Campesi & Nic
  • Dogtopia’s owner and groomer Amber Sutton & Zeke
  • MPO Brad Weeks and his police dogs, Kodiak & Juneau
  • Veterinarian Caitlin Love

Along with partners at the Key Center School, the cast spent a day volunteering at the Alexandria Animal Welfare League. “Following each encounter, we transformed those interactions into the songs, dances, and script that make up All About Dogs,” shared Greenlee.

The performers have taken their experiences with the dog experts and the animals themselves into exciting creative directions, building confidence and developing new skills. “I’m able to lead and feel independent,” said one; “I like to do the beat-boxing solo,” chimed in another.

BARK: SIT, STAND, ROLL OVER WITH US

As an audience member at All About Dogs, you’ll be invited to talk with a partner, join in songs and dances, learn the dos and don’ts of meeting a new dog for the first time, and understand nuances of terms like ‘improvise’ and ‘harmony.’ By the end of the show, you will have a deeper appreciation for the many ways dogs work with us, guide us and shower us with unconditional affection, as well as understand which dog-related work might suit you best.

PANT: TRAINED THERAPY DOGS IN ACTION

The cast features trained therapy dogs who demonstrate one of the important roles dogs play in helping people: bringing the love! “They visit clients at MVLE; they go to schools, hospitals, and assisted living facilities,” says Greenlee. “Interacting with a trained therapy dog helps people relax and feel connected. Nikita, for example, is trained to sit on people’s laps, while Nic is trained to help with occupational therapy. People can practice small motor control in their hands by putting bows and clips on his fur. He’s a patient guy and never gets tired of the attention.” The grand finale is a dance featuring these dog-therapy teams, says Greenlee.

All About Dogs runs 45 minutes. It is suitable for people ages 0 – 100 and those with and without intellectual and physical disability. All performances are FREE, but reservations are recommended. Please contact Sarah Caldwell at (703) 894-8247 or scaldwell@mvle.org to reserve your seats.

Since 2015, Greenlee and the BodyWise Dance artistic team have led MVLE Moves!, a movement therapy program for individuals with disabilities at MVLE. All About Dogs is the latest chapter in the groups’ work together supporting disabled adults’ physical and emotional health.

Operating since 1971, Virginia-based MVLE, Inc. provides employment training and job placement, contributing to enhanced quality of life for people with intellectual and physical disability. MVLE is an internationally accredited agency that partners with more than 125 commercial businesses in addition to government and other not-for-profit agencies. MVLE supported over 450 individuals with disabilities each year, with a commitment to creating futures, one person at a time.

All About Dogs is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia Commission on the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Wells Fargo Foundation, Rea Charitable Trust and Express Lanes Foundation. Follow BodyWise Dance and MVLE, Inc. on Facebook and Twitter.

Upcoming performances of All About Dogs:

Tuesday, May 8, 11:00am

Sherwood Community Center

3740 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax VA 22030

Saturday, May 19, 4:00pm

Hylton Performing Arts Center

10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20109

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.