Colorado Creative Industries and Dance Express are proud to announce that Artistic and Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Lenahan is certified as a Colorado Change Leader as of October 2021! Congratulations! We are so proud! Colorado Change Leaders are community leaders who use creative solutions to address social and community needs. Mary Elizabeth adapted Dance Express’ usual dance program into a virtual one to overcome the challenges and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the show must go on! For the dancers to learn new choreography and practice for performances, Mary Elizabeth implemented a virtual platform with the support of volunteers and dancers’ families. There were two important facets to the success of this creative solution: first, to film individuals modeling the choreography and post clips to one of our social media platforms for exclusive use by our community; and second, to create a way for dancers to be accountable for learning and keeping actively engaged while in isolation. Dance Express invested in simple equipment to complete the project, engaged local videographers and film editors to create the clips for publication and/or production. One of the project films aired at the Lyric Outdoor Theatre in September 2020.

Mary Elizabeth Lenahan founded Dance Express in 1989 during her years at CSU and was granted 501(c)(3) status for the dance company in 1992. She has long recognized the talents and dance capabilities of persons with Down syndrome, for she personally witnessed them in her sister, Theresa. As the Artistic and Executive Director of Dance Express for 33 years, she has responsibly produced dance and dance theatre productions and hosted adaptive dance workshops and regional inclusive dance convenings with community collaboration. Further, she has engaged with area arts and education groups for community outreach and guest appearances to augment access to the arts for persons with differing abilities and disabilities, such as Down syndrome or developmental delay. Mary Elizabeth is an outstanding Colorado Change Leader, as she has used her creative solutions to overcome challenges and empower many in our northern Colorado communities.