Inlet Dance Theatre History

Executive/Artistic Director Bill Wade

All photos courtesy of Inlet Dance Theatre.

Founded in 2001 by Executive/Artistic Director Bill Wade, Inlet embodies his belief that dance viewing, training and performing experiences may serve as tools to bring about personal growth and development. In 19 years, Inlet transformed from a small dance company with local impact into an organization that reaches people on an international level.

Inlet’s ensemble-based culture intentionally focuses on craftsmanship and mastery while employing a collaborative creative process in the development of new work. Inlet’s collaborative creative process is more inclusive than the traditional autocratic leadership hierarchy, resulting in work that is surprisingly diverse. Each piece in Inlet’s repertory is the direct result of the collaborating artists in the studio at the time the work was created, often including artists of other mediums.

All of Inlet’s repertory speaks creatively about human life issues and does so in a life-giving manner. The company presents a wide aesthetic range of works that speak to what could be, rather than only what is.

Finally, Inlet develops and teaches people from the inside-out in all of their design-centric programming. Performing and educating are viewed as two sides of the same coin and not separate entities unto themselves. Inlet engages people in dance making, allowing focus on technique acquisition, collaboratively creating new work, critical response, making connections, and performance skills. Inlet’s technique foundations, rooted in American Modern Dance, include Erick Hawkins-based release technique, Alison Chase/Pilobolus-based nontraditional partnering, and structured improvisation. We use this unique process as a platform through which we provide personal transformation for everyone involved.

In contrast to an industry where people are often used to further dance, Inlet Dance Theatre is committed to using dance to further people.


Inlet Dance Theatre was founded.
Inlet Trainee & Apprentice Program established
Selected by OAC’s International Artist Exchange Program to work with Rapa Nui artists from Easter Island; Inlet became the first American modern dance company to perform on the island.
Inlet receives the Award of Achievement in Dance from Northern Ohio Live Magazine for the three-phase international artist exchange with Easter Island.
Bill Wade selected to participate in The Cleveland Foundation’s three-year Project Access professional development program.
Inlet hosted a three-month international artist residency as part of The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program with Kapila Palihawadina from Sri Lanka.
Premiered Easter Island Memoirs at Playhouse Square’s Hanna Theatre, which subsequently toured around the nation.
Bill Wade awarded the Mid-Career Award in the music and dance category from the Cleveland Arts Prize.
Bill Wade received the Outstanding Contributions to the Dance Art Form award from Ohio Dance.
Inlet collaborated with an international artist residency as part of The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program with Bui Con Khan from Vietnam (Playhouse Square as host organization)
Inlet hosted a three-month international artist residency as part of The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program with Mihaela Kavdanska from Sophia, Bulgaria.
Inlet hosted a three-month international artist residency as part of The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program with Chuang Hui Lin, from Taiwan.
Libby Koba became Inlet’s first full-time Company Manager.
Libby Koba, thanks to funding provided by The George Gund Foundation, became Inlet’s first Managing Director.
Inlet commissioned to co-create a full-length work focusing on human trafficking with renowned Mexican-American playwright José Cruz Gonzales and producer/dramaturg Bert Goldstein: Among the Darkest Shadows premiered at the Wharton Center (E Lansing, MI) and toured to Des Moines Performing Arts. Over 4000 people experienced the production and conversation session after each performance that included the cast, choreographer (Wade), playwright, producer, and professionals in the field of human trafficking (police officers, human trafficking task force directors and employees, etc.)
Inlet Dance Theatre is booked to perform at Jacob’s Pillow. According to Jacob’s Pillow’s records, Inlet was the first company from Cleveland to perform at Jacob’s Pillow in over 40 years.
Inlet’s commission by Playhouse Square’s Community Engagement and Education Department to create a full-length dance theatre adaptation of the NYTimes best-selling children’s book, "What Do You Do With An Idea?", premiered at the Ohio Theatre. The production garnered a contract with nationally renowned booking agency, Holden & Arts Associates.
Dominic Moore-Dunson's “The ‘Black Card’ Project”, a 90-minute work, world premieres at Firestone Community Learning Center's Auditorium in Akron (OH)
Inlet Company Member and emerging choreographer Dominic Moore-Dunson, thanks to funding provided by the Chilcote Family Foundation, became the first Assistant to the Artistic Director.
Inlet’s production, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” was selected to showcase at the International Performing Arts for Youth’s Showcase & Conference at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
Dominic Moore-Dunson awarded Cleveland Arts Prize for emerging artist in Theater & Dance
Inlet is establishing its own home base in the Clark/Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland. A capital campaign is underway to renovate 8000 square feet of an old factory, embedded in that neighborhood and will include two large studios with folding wall between them in order to convert to a performance space, a small studio, waiting room, cubby area for children, restrooms for students, a work area/open office space for Company Members to conduct administrative work, a Board Room, offices for the Managing Director, Executive/Artistic Director and the Assistant to the Artistic Director, Company Member locker room, kitchenette, a scenic storage area, costume maintenance/creation room, and wardrobe.
Inlet will conduct a national tour of the production, “What Do You Do With An Idea?” to Greenville (SC), Cleveland (OH), Tiffin (OH), Rochester (NY), Baton Rouge (LA), Las Vegas (NV), Tacoma (WA), Bellingham (WA), Seattle (WA), Columbus (GA), and Macau (China).
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