LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2021) — The Allegro Dance Project, a Lexington-based dance company, gives children with special needs the opportunity to dance through its Inclusive Outreach Program and adaptive classes. With the help of University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information students, the Allegro Dance Project had a very successful summer show.
Jeana Klevene, the founder and director of the Allegro Dance Project, created the company after several interactions with children who did not have opportunities to dance in a traditional setting or with traditional instruction.
“I noticed that any time we did any kind of community outreach, children with specific needs were encouraged to not participate,” Klevene said.
Inspired to foster a more inclusive and accessible environment, Klevene created the Allegro Dance Project. Now entering its eighth season, the Allegro Dance Project has paved a path for all children to feel safe in the dancing community.
In July, the Allegro Dance Project hosted its summer show, called “Renaissance,” which centered on parallels between the Renaissance period and the 21st century. The last piece of the show, a fan favorite, allowed participants from the Inclusive Outreach Program and adaptive classes to join the company on stage.
“Renaissance” reached the highest attendance numbers for a show in the Allegro Dance Project’s history. Klevene gave partial credit to UK students for this success.
“We were able to work with a group of students who, through The $100 Solution, helped us work on and strategize our marketing and advertising for the show,” Klevene said. “That was so much fun, not only for us, but for the students to get to make decisions that impact the organization.”
These students — members of Allyson DeVito’s CIS 300 class — partnered with The $100 Solution to solve local organizations’ problems. DeVito tasked one of her groups with promoting the Allegro Dance Project's summer show.
Additionally, UK students contributed to the show’s success as interns, musicians and company dancers. The interns — who are majoring in integrated strategic communication, political science and digital media and design — helped "Renaissance" by designing T-shirts, helping with outreach efforts and volunteering backstage.
Two musicians, DeBraun Thomas and Keenan Ray, are also UK graduates, and company dancers Kate Cox and Marian Bokyo are in their second year of medical school and first year of physical therapy school at UK, respectively.
“It’s a great experience for UK students to get to work with nonprofits,” Klevene said. “We are so grateful for all the ways we get to interact and engage with UK.”
If you are interested in getting involved with the Allegro Dance Project, there are several opportunities for you to help create a safe space for self-expression.
“In providing either live music for our outreach or composing and performing in a show, I think we have a lot of different opportunities for volunteering, interning and paid work,” Klevene said. “We would love to continue to develop a relationship with UK.”
Follow along on the Allegro Dance Project’s journey on Instagram (@allegrodanceproject).
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.