The Lied Center of Kansas has named the Dancing Wheels Company, America’s first and foremost physically integrated dance company, and Lysette DeBoard, instructional coach at Woodlawn Elementary School, as the 2022–23 season’s IMPACT Awards recipients. Each season, the Lied Center recognizes one artist or group for distinguished service to the performing arts and one USD 497 educator for distinguished service to arts education.
The IMPACT Awards will be presented on Friday, April 14, during the Dancing Wheels Company performance at the Lied Center. “Lysette DeBoard’s selfless and student-centric approach represents all that we can strive to achieve in arts education. It is not hyperbole to call Dancing Wheels Company a pioneering trailblazer in the performing arts. To recognize these individuals with the 2022–23 IMPACT Awards is truly a privilege,” said Derek Kwan, Lied Center executive director.
Mary Verdi-Fletcher, America’s first professional wheelchair dancer, founded the Dancing Wheels Company in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio. Having been born with spina bifida, she wanted to open the doors of opportunity for people with disabilities to pursue their goals on an equal ground with their non-disabled peers. Forty years ago, this concept was uncharted territory in the world of dance, but Verdi-Fletcher’s passion and perseverance has revolutionized the idea of dance and the notion of who should or could participate. Now in its 42nd season, the Dancing Wheels Company is America’s first and foremost professional physically integrated company, uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. This skilled ensemble of stand-up and sit-down dancers has reached over six million people worldwide with innovative mainstage performances, school assembly programs, guest appearances, master classes and outreach activities.
Lysette DeBoard is the instructional coach at Woodlawn Elementary School and for K-5 Art, Library, Music and PE Specialists. She is passionate about helping people, of all ages, learn new things and refine their current practices. Before taking on the role of instructional coach, she spent 16 years in music education at various schools in Lawrence as well as two years in the Perry-Lecompton school district. DeBoard has been a longtime advocate for the performing arts, and she has helped facilitate students coming to the Lied Center for school-only performances for many years.
This year’s winners will be added to the list of esteemed recipients, such as Emmet Cohen, Samuel Ramey, Joshua Bell, Black Violin and Wynton Marsalis; and USD 497 educators Rachel Downs-Doubrava, Peter Gipson, Johannah Cox, Deborah Woodall Routledge, Sara Bonner, Dani Lotton-Barker and Lois Orth-Lopes. Learn more about the Lied Center IMPACT Awards >
Tickets for the Dancing Wheels Company performance on April 14 can be purchased at lied.ku.edu or the Lied Center Ticket Office.