Allegro will bring the elements and inclusiveness to the stage this weekend

Allegro Dance Project will perform its encore show “In Our Element” at the Lyric Theater on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. Photo provided by Jeana Klevene, founder and artistic director for Allegro. 

Bailey Vandiver

Seven years ago, a young man with autism took a ballet class and inspired a dream in the instructor.

Jeana Klevene said this dancer started her on a journey that, after years of research and paperwork, ended with her founding of the Allegro Dance Project in 2014.

Allegro is a nonprofit contemporary dance company that specializes in inclusive dance outreach for children with down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder or other specific needs.

“All throughout my dance career I had noted a lack of inclusiveness in the art of dance,” Klevene said. “It means so much to me to get to provide this opportunity for these talented dancers and nothing brings me more joy than to share my love for dance with hundreds of children with special needs and to see them fall in love with dance, too.” 

Allegro typically does two shows each season, and the January show is nearly here: The company will be performing “In Our Element” this Saturday, Jan. 13.

The show, titled by Klevene “because as a dancer, you are ‘in your element’ when you are on stage,” is an encore performance; it was originally performed last July. 

This theme, like Allegro, also came from a dream of Klevene’s.

“The theme was actually inspired by my initial dream to bring water on stage for the dancers to perform in through an engineered water wall and shallow pool,” she said. 

Klevene collaborated with Big Ass Solutions to incorporate air, and fire will be brought to the stage via projection and LED.

“‘In Our Element’ is an exhilarating show filled with high-energy dancing and spectacular aerial arts. Hoops, pois, ribbons, and more help explore wind, fire and water,” said Katelyn Cox, an agricultural and medical biotechnology sophomore who is part of Allegro.

Klevene said the company has added some new elements since last July, including a new partnership with CirqueLouis, a non-profit circus company.

A silent auction will be held in the theater lobby to raise money to support Allegro’s Inclusive Dance Outreach.

“Through ticket proceeds and silent auction funds, we hope to raise a total of $5,000 for our Spring Inclusive Dance outreach programming in hopes of reaching our goal of sharing the art of dance with over 300 children with specific needs,” Klevene said.

Cox, who is minoring in dance, said she loves the “community and culture of inclusivity that Allegro promotes.” 

“Most importantly, children with specific needs have the opportunity to perform alongside trained dancers for one incredible show,” she said.

Another dancer in the company, dance and biology freshman Katie SImon, said the Inclusive Outreach Program is the best part of being involved with Allegro.

“Every time I get to practice and rehearse with the children involved, it puts meaning behind my dancing,” she said. “My involvement with Allegro is by far the most rewarding project I have ever been a part of.”

The performance is at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Lyric Theater. Tickets are $20 for the general public. UK students can purchase discount tickets for $15 with a valid ID.

“We hope UK students will come to the show to support their fellow students, to support the local arts and to celebrate inclusion in the arts,” Klevene said.

Klevene said she encourages UK dance students to attend Allegro company auditions, which will be held Feb. 25. Students can also volunteer or look into internships offered by Allegro. More information can be found here

Allegro will be performing a new show in July called “Come Fourth.”