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contactAddress3580 Aloma Avenue #7
Winter Park FL 32792


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Imagine it.  Students of all levels and abilities working together to create a living work of art through dance and puppetry, in a celebratory display of diversity and inclusion in both arts and the world around us.

Conducted in partnership with MicheLee Puppets, ‘Together We Rise’ is multidisciplinary performance course that brings together dance and puppetry, and gives students from all backgrounds the opportunity to collaborate, imagine and create a truly magical result.  Classes emphasize designing puppets and mastering an extended piece of choreography that will be integrated into a fully-realized dance-puppetry performance, honoring our differences and celebrating the diverse community in which we live.

Throughout the classroom experience, students gain new skills in artistic, social and kinesthetic arenas, expanding their creative resources and demonstrating that artistic excellence can be achieved by students of all levels and abilities.


Classes take place on site at The Center for Contemporary Dance:

September 18, 2017 through May 28, 2018*
Every Monday from 4:30-6:00 p.m.

*Final week of classes includes additional rehearsals.

Who Can Participate:  Students ages 10 to adult of all levels and abilities, including those with special needs.  Students and guardians with no prior experience as well as those with training in dance and/or puppetry are encouraged to participate.  Students may choose to participate primarily in the design/construction of puppets or dance component.  The final performance integrates dance and puppets created by students and teaching artists.


Tuition and Fees:
$20 registration fee (one-time fee)
$65 per month tuition fee, September 2017 through May 2018
$55 production fee (one-time fee)

Register Now



Final Performance:
4:00 p.m. Sunday, June 3, 2018
John & Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
812 E Rollins Street
Orlando, FL  32803

Tickets:  $25 General Admission

Get Tickets



More About ‘Together We Rise’

The project facilitates immersive, creative and educational interaction among student artists from diverse backgrounds, supporting the development of mentally, physically and emotionally healthier individuals and their social units.  Student artists of all levels and abilities will benefit from participation as they expand skills and perceptions that ensure the greatest possibility for artistic innovation, even beyond the project’s endpoint.  Student learning goals can be categorized in three areas, including:


Makulu at WDPAC - 3

Photo courtesy of The Center for Contemporary Dance

Arts Education
  • Students learn dance and puppeteering patterns, sequences and design processes, then learn to re-arrange, integrate, reverse and expand the patterns and processes
  • Students work together to build expressive work, deepening community insight into their experiences
  • Students demonstrate achievement in artistic excellence by participating in a fully-realized multidisciplinary performance
Social/Emotional Intelligence
  • Students learn to become fully engaged, physically and cognitively, in order to participate effectively
  • Students expand their repertoire of effective and creative communication tools, promoting stronger social dynamics
  • Students work with others of various backgrounds and abilities, informing social perceptions about the value of diversity, in both personal and professional arenas
Kinesthetic Learning
  • Students practice new approaches to mastering fine and gross motor skills, adding dimension to their current movement vocabulary
  • Students learn new movement patterns required for the integration of puppetry and dance
  • Students practice an expanded range of motion that can be applied to the arts and to daily living


Why Dance and Puppetry?

  • Dance and puppetry are well aligned disciplines that integrate kinesthetic, creative and cognitive skills
  • Collaborations with partners in other creative fields demonstrate how diverse disciplines, like project participants themselves, can successfully work together, enhance one another and achieve a unified artistic goal
  • Young people feel safe talking to puppets and through puppets
  • Dance and puppetry allow both artists and audiences to discover new ways to explore and communicate feelings, thoughts and ideas


Our Expertise

Operating with complete transparency as reviewed by the Central Florida Community Foundation, The Center for Contemporary Dance is a leading Florida education, incubation and production center for the dance arts. The company is responsible for the evolution of contemporary dance in the area, supporting the launch of 13 out of 15 regularly-presenting local contemporary dance companies. Over the past 16 years and even before its incorporation, the organization has supported emerging and seasoned artists in the creation and presentation of more than 250 new dance works. Since its inception, the organization has been involved in 39 major projects and 162 smaller endeavors that collectively engaged more than 15,000 students of all backgrounds in the arts. Each year, the organization serves over 5,000 Title I public school children through performances, lecture/demonstrations and dance education workshops.

  • Teaching artists use a 15-year-old pedagogy, proven to deliver successful outcomes for inclusive populations
  • Since 2011, the organization has hosted a formal program for students with unique abilities and received a 2017 Diversity & Inclusion Award from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for this work
  • Also since 2011, The Center for Contemporary Dance has been recognized by the Florida Alliance for Arts Education for its state-wide contributions to dance education.
  • A five-time winner of prestigious awards for Excellence in Dance from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Center for Contemporary Dance has indisputably defined Central Florida’s next generation of dance culture, pioneering the explosion of contemporary dance in the area.
With additional expertise and oversight from our partners, The Center for Contemporary Dance is committed to equalizing access to arts education and creating inclusive models for the delivery of arts curricula.


Project Partners


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Master Teaching Artists

 Dance/Choreography at The Center for Contemporary Dance and for program extensions conducted at UCP of Central Florida
Dario J. MooreDario J. Moore is a dance educator with 22+ years of experience in arts education and project management. His 17 years of work with students with unique abilities is locally recognized; he provides consulting services for Florida arts groups wishing to create inclusive arts education programs. Honored for excellence in statewide contributions to arts education by Florida Alliance for Arts Education, Dario co-­founded The Center for Contemporary Dance and has served as its Artistic Director since 2001. In 2011, Dario developed and continues to lead inclusion programs at The Center for Contemporary Dance for traditional students and students with unique abilities. He is also the founder/artistic director of Moore Dance Project (2001-present), the area’s first African­-American dance ensemble. Dario serves as a teaching artist for numerous public and private schools across Florida, including those serving students with special needs. Dario holds an MA degree from American University in dance education.


 Puppetry/Design at The Center for Contemporary Dance
Tracey Conner is the founder and executive director of MicheLee Puppets, Inc. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in theatre and moved to Orlando to found MicheLee Puppets in 1985. Under her direction, MicheLee Puppets has played a unique role in the Central Florida community as a creator of original issue­-based performances for young people.  They have developed more than 50 live theatre and video productions on critical topics like divorce, child abuse, bully prevention, healthy lifestyles, literacy and more.  Their performances, videos, and puppetry classes have reached more than 2 million PreK­-12th grade students, promoting respect for self and others, personal responsibility, and positive life choices. MicheLee Puppets is nationally recognized and has received the prestigious Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin Award for Excellence in the Field of Educational Puppetry from Puppeteers of America.


Puppetry/Design for program extensions at UCP of Central Florida
 A performer, writer, puppet-builder and teaching artist for over 20 years, Jamie Donmoyer grew up studying with internationally renowned performers, specializing in puppetry and character development. As a professional puppetry artist Jamie’s performance work can be found on stage, touring regularly with MicheLee Puppets, and on screen, in various shows and films such as The Disney Channel’s “Johnny and the Sprites”, Sprouts “The Chica Show”, and as Sunrail’s Safety Squirrel “Tie.” As an arts integration specialist and teaching artist, Jamie works with local teachers and youth through organizations such as the REP, Mary Palmer and Associates, The Orlando Philharmonic, and MicheLee Puppets. Jamie is a puppet specialist for Walt Disney World, and a character development specialist for Royal Caribbean’s Dreamworks character experience.




This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.




Tuition and grant funding cover less than 30% of project costs, and support from private donors is essential.  To support this project, please click here to make a gift or call (407) 695-8366 to contribute by phone.



To learn more and to get your questions answered, please call (407) 695-8366 or send us a note.