About the Company

The Company's name, LEAVEN, is taken from Matthew 13:33:

The reign of God is like leaven, which a woman took and kneaded into three
measures of flour. Eventually the whole mass of dough began to rise.

All these images, the movement, the rising, and the dough, are symbolic of the Bread of Life, that which sustains us. All are metaphors for the "reign of God." The dancers hope, in some small way, through their movement offerings, to be part of the leaven which works to help give rise to the reign of God on earth.


Mission Statement

Leaven Dance Company is a professional dance ensemble whose work addresses spiritual, ethical, social and wholeness issues through performance and worship venues and educational, motivational workshops.


Philosophy

The Leaven Dance Company dancers recognize a common and universal purpose for their art: to affirm life and to focus on those concerns which touch at the heart of humankind. The company believes that dance has a powerful potential to be an agent for self-discovery, spiritual enrichment, positive change and growth, and personal and international peace. The ensemble dwells in the belief that creative authentic movement expression reflects a universal language of communication; integrates body, mind and spirit; and promotes unity among diverse populations.

With dance as our medium, we invite all people to prayer, worship, peace
and justice and a deeper commitment to God and to each other.


History

In 1989 two Kent State University dance faculty members, Kathryn Mihelick and Andrea Shearer, and the Children's Program Director for the Canton Community Jewish Center, Lisa Fogel found themselves to be of like mind in viewing dance as having powerful potential as an agent for change, self-discovery and personal and international peace. From this belief and these professional relationships the nucleus of a dance company emerged. Building upon the individual work of Kathryn Mihelick, who had been personally involved in sacred dance for several years, they began giving workshops and performing in concert, worship, and educational settings. Performances occurred locally, regionally and in the case of Ms. Mihelick, nationally and internationally. After serving as Assistant Professor and Dance Coordinator at Kent State University, Ms. Mihelick shifted her focus to the development of a cohesive group of dancers who shared the vision of dance as an agent for individual growth and change. Her leadership roles in the national Sacred Dance Guild and in international conferences served to stimulate the group's growth potential. A tribute to her, which was presented when she received the Sacred Dance Guild's "Living Legacy" award, can be seen at: Kathryn Mihelick Tribute.

As requests increased for the ensemble's services and dance presentations, the core membership of the Leaven Dance Company grew to seven regular and four adjunct company members. The dancers were of one accord in embracing the company's mission and philosophy.

The Leaven Dance Company was now on its way to becoming an established reality. Ms. Shearer was named Associate Director to meet the expanded requirements of management, as well as artistic and spiritual input. Company members have been affiliated with several professional dance organizations including the Sacred Dance Guild, the National Dance Association, OhioDance, International Christian Dance Fellowship, American College Dance Festival, and the American Dance Therapy Association.

The next phase of growth for the company was formalization into a full-fledged, registered nonprofit organization, complete with Board of Trustees. This enabled the ensemble to increase their base of financial support so necessary for carrying out their mission. During the fall of 1992 and spring of 1993 the codirectors worked with a consultant funded through the Ohio Arts Council to develop a three year plan. The Internal Revenue Service approved its non-profit status in November, 1993. Following that, Leaven was in residence at the Kent State University Newman Center for the next ten years, pursuing and extending its ministry throughout the area. In 2003 the group began functioning as a free-lance organization, enabling it to meet the requests for its work in other parts of the region and the country, as well. The company continues this ministry with grateful acknowledgement of the continual presence and help of the Lord. .

Leaven Dance Company's outreach work includes anti-violence and self-discovery workshops, such as the "Building Community" project and "Arts Express the Spirit" project in Summit County high schools. Company performances of historic modern dance works by Helen Tamiris and Isadora Duncan were part of these experiences which utilize dance, movement and improvisation to increase students' awareness of their expressive and creative potential in addition to addressing issues such as personal/group space, mutual respect, trust, and personal responsibility.

Beginning this year (2016) the activity of the company has been revised to focus primarily on offering dance in worship services, and leading dance/movement prayer retreats and workshops. Concerts are no longer being offered. The Director, Kathryn Mihelick, and Co-Director, Andrea Shearer, will present the retreats and workshops with occasional assistance from company members.

Board of Trustees

Contacts

Leaven Dance Company
2292 Lynnwood Drive
Stow, OH 44224
Voice: (330) 688-8806
email:
kmleaven@neo.rr.com

webmaster: Thomas J. Froehlich

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