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CMNH hosts Inlet Dance Theatre for an evening of natural dance, naturally

Scenes from the Inlet Dance Theatre performance at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Scenes from the Inlet Dance Theatre performance at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Mark Horning

Nature Displays


Last Thursday the Cleveland Museum of Natural History hosted Inlet Dance Theatre (which included members of the Inlet Trainee & Apprentice Program and the Inlet Youth Ensemble) in the presentation of their dance program “Nature Displays” in conjunction with the CMNH exhibit “Nature’s Mating Games: Beyond the Birds and the Bees”.

CMNH and Inlet Dance Theatre, a natural combination
Mark Horning

The evening began with drinks and hor dourves for the various patrons as members of the dance company frolicked about in various animal costumes. There were two mice (on small rolling platforms), Mr. and Mrs. Frog (elegantly dressed) and a blue clad member from the soon to be preformed number “BALListic” (with a large red ball). As audience members sampled from a table of various breads and spreads, the “critters” ambled about being careful not to interact with “the humans”. In cases where people got too close, they would skitter off to a safe distance much like their counterparts in the wild.

With everyone sufficiently wined and dined, we were directed to the auditorium for the start of the show. The show “Nature Displays” began as a conversation between Carin Miller (Director of Education for CMNH) and Bill Wade (Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Inlet Dance Theatre). A year ago, Carin had learned that the Natural History Museum of London’s exhibit “Nature’s Mating Games: Beyond the Birds and the Bees” was going to come to CMNH when she mentioned this to Bill, he immediately began to envision the choreography and costuming for a new work to commemorate the exhibit.

The first portion of the show was made up of earlier works from Inlet’s broad inventory and included “BALListic” (2002), “Doppelganger” (2001), “Wondrous Beasts” (2005) and “imPAIRed” (2004).

“BALListic” consisted of six dance members dressed from head to toe in blue each with a large bright red ball that they used in various ways to delight the audience. It is a whimsical piece guaranteed to make you smile.

“Doppelganer” was a study in strength and slow movement as two men meld into each other to form various shapes. Along with the beauty of the piece was the realization of the strength needed to perform this work.

“Wondrous Beasts” involved four members dressed in wildly colorful leotards of patterned green, brown, blue, red, orange and yellow (much like a rare frog or toad). As the dance went on, the four combined their bodies to form a totally new organism that slowly “walked” across the stage.

“imPAIRed” began in 2004 as a conducted residency for visually impaired and blind students at the Cleveland Sight Center. It is a pas de duex between two blindfolded dancers who must rely on their other senses as well as trust for each other.

After a short intermission the final work of the evening was the premiere of “Nature Displays” that consisted of ten movements: “Birds in a Field”, Moused Connections”, “Sex Cells”, “Bridled Passion”, Hello Paradise”, “Frog Tango”, “RAMbunctious (size matters)”, “Stolen Moment”, “Desire” and “…and the Bee”. For the most part I found the various works entertaining (especially the clever wording of the titles). Most notable of these (judging from the audience reaction) were “Birds in a Field”, “Sex Cells”, Hello Paradise” and “…and the Bee”.

Having only previously seen small snippets of Inlet Dance Theatre as part of shows involving various local dance companies, it was nice to see an extended volume of their work. For information on upcoming events involving Inlet Dance Theatre go to

Following the performance, audience members were invited to tour the exhibit “Nature’s Mating Games: Beyond the Birds and the Bees” that will be on display through April 20, 2014. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $6 after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. Admission for Museum members is always free. Admission to Nature's Mating Games is an additional $3 for members and $5 for nonmembers.

About Inlet Dance Theatre

Inlet Dance Theatre is one of the region’s most exciting professional contemporary dance companies dedicated to performing with a high level of quality, skill, innovation and purpose. Inlet utilizes the art form of dance to bring about personal development in the lives of individuals through training and mentoring, and to speak creatively about life and the issues we all face.

About the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The mission of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is to inspire, through science and education, a passion for nature, the protection of natural diversity, the fostering of health, and leadership to a sustainable future.