Our History 

Founded in February, 1989, Dance Express premiered its first studio concert in May, 1989 at the Downtown Community Center. In August, dancers appeared at the first official Fort Collins’ New West Fest. Since then each year, Dance Express creates annual dance and dance theatre productions, teaches adaptive modern dance workshops in schools and community centers, and makes guest appearances regionally. Through our workshop program since 1993, Dance Express has served more than 3000 students and adults with and without disabilities.

Performances include:

Winter Solstice Celebration (2016)

A Winter's Solstice (2015)

The Christmas Rose (2013 & 2014)

Angel Dances & The Shepherds’ Play with area school children and community members (2009)

DanceMakers series with fellow dance artists with and without disabilities (2004-08) 

The Christmas Rose / La Rosa de Navidad (2003-2007)

Robin Hood (2002) with Aire Flamenco

2001: A Dance Odyssey (2001)  

ZORRO! (2000)

A Christmas Light with River Song Waldorf School (1998) 

"Together” series with Canyon Concert Ballet (1993-1997) 

Also seen throughout Fort Collins in First Night, Streetmosphere, & the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations!


Mary Elizabeth Lenahan Day 

May 24, 2009 was proclaimed Mary Elizabeth Lenahan Day by Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson to honor her as a leader in integrating people of all abilities in the joy of dance. 

Fort Collins Mayor's Award

2007 Dance Express was nominated for the Fort Collins Mayor’s Awards for its excellence. 

Hal O'Leary Inspiration Award 

2011 Tamara Mahler was awarded the Hal O'Leary Inspiration Award at Coors Stadium in Denver, Colorado.

Biz West Non-Profit Of The Year 

2022 Dance Express was named Biz West's Non-Profit Of The Year! 

Mary Elizabeth Lenahan 

Founder, Artistic Director, & Executive Director

 While completing her Masters in Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University in  1989, Mary Elizabeth founded Dance Express with the help of a work-study job. Thanks to her sister, Theresa, born with Down syndrome, Mary Elizabeth recognized the talents,  dance capabilities, and innate rhythmicity of persons with Down syndrome and other  developmental delays. In 1992, Dance Express achieved incorporation in Colorado and federal 501(c)(3) status with a non-profit board of directors.  

 As the Artistic and Executive Director of Dance Express since then, she works with  the Board of Directors, dancers, community volunteers, and fellow artists to responsibly produce annual dance and dance theatre productions, adaptive dance workshops in  schools and community centers, and (since 2017) an annual regional inclusive dance  convening. As invited and possible, she aligns with area arts and education groups for guest appearances to augment access to the arts for persons with differing abilities and  disabilities, such as Down syndrome or developmental delay.  

 Named a Northern Colorado Woman of Distinction in 2015 and an honoree for the  Northern Colorado Community Ordinary Extraordinary People Award in 2019, she notes “Each of us has a dancer waiting to share the light.” In 2021, Lenahan became a  certified Colorado Creative Change Leader. In 2022 and 2023, she represents Dance  Express in a United Way Equity and Excellence cohort and persists in dreaming of establishing an expressive and healing arts center as a cultural hub.   A proponent of inclusive dance, she gleaned insights through her experiences as an  occupational therapist, modern dancer, and eurythmist. She expands her skills through  Dance Express, and by building on her learning from the State University of New York at  Albany (BA), Colorado State University (MS), Sound Circle Eurythmy, and dance  companies regionally, nationally, and internationally. Her dance is influenced by Maud  Baum of Electronic Body Works, Albany, NY; Paul Sanasardo and Manuel Alum, NY, NY;  Adrienne Posner, Albany, NY; Dixie Hayes Menzer & Debbi Gomes, Fort Collins, CO; Jane  Slusarski-Harris and guest instructors from Cleo Parker Robinson, Colorado State  University; Jana Meszaros with DanceAbility International, Portland, OR; and Tailfeather  Dance UK. FYI: Her love of dance started as a child at Sunday afternoon polka hops!