Deeply Rooted Dance Theater to Debut at North Shore Center

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Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) continues its 20th anniversary season with its debut at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, presenting "Deeply Rooted Dance Theater: Aspects of Love," a one-night-only performance February 4, 2017 celebrating Valentine's Day.

DRDT creates world-class dance inspired by the African diaspora in a community dedicated to nurturing artists, supporting human relationships and sharing common values through engaging in dance.

The repertoire on the program reflects love in its many forms:

  • Family and communal love: The March (2007 and 2014), reflections on America's Civil Rights era, is choreographed by DRDT Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott and DRDT Co-Founder and Artistic Director Kevin Iega Jeff to music by Roberta Flack and Samuel Barber.
  • Brotherly love: When Men, choreographed by DRDT company member Joshua L. Ishmon, with music by Ananda Giri and Paolo Nutini and text by Charlie Chaplin, explores the idea of abandoning stigmas to strengthen from within. DRDT performed the world premiere of this work in December 2016 in Chicago.
  • Sisterly love: Femme, choreographed by DRDT Artistic Team member Nicole Clarke-Springer, with music by Nina Simone, celebrates the allure, courage, strength and beauty of women. Femme also had its world premiere in December 2016 in Chicago.
  • Love of movement and beauty: Bach'd (2011), which reflects the timeless grace, passion, power and rhythmic qualities of Johann Sebastian Bach's compositions, is choreographed by Abbott.
  • Romantic intimate love: Wild is the Wind (2013) is choreographed by Jeff to music by Nina Simone.
  • Health, love and spirit: Jagged Ledges (2004), which explores the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS and the soul's quest for freedom, is choreographed by Abbott and Jeff with music by Martin Tillman, Tom Bedvik, Jai Utal and Peter Gabriel and text by Staceyann Chin, and Heaven (2004), which celebrates joy and humanity, clarity and resolve, is choreographed by Jeff and Abbott to original music by Raymond Jones.

"We are excited to share our company with the North Shore Center community, and this being our 20th year makes it all the more special," said Jeff. "During this transitional time in our nation's leadership, we celebrate human connection through love: love of community, brotherly and sisterly love, intimate love, love during trying times and the pure love of dance. So I hope many will join us as we celebrate the heights of humanity in this soul-stirring evening of dance."

The 20th anniversary season concludes in November 2017 with performances at the Studebaker Theatre in downtown Chicago.

Founded in 1995, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is rooted in traditions of African-American dance, storytelling and universal themes that spark a visceral experience and ignite an emotional response in diverse audiences worldwide. Collaborating with nationally renowned choreographers across the spectrum of modern, ballet and African dance, DRDT presents work that reflects many voices in contemporary life.

Deeply Rooted's programs are partially supported by the Boeing Company, the Chicago Community Trust, the Illinois Arts Council, the Irving Harris Fund, the Joyce Foundation, Lake Shore Chapter of the Links, Inc., MacArthur Foundation funds through the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation's International Connections Fund and the Deeply Rooted Family of Friends.

"Deeply Rooted Dance Theater: Aspects of Love" takes place Saturday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Boulevard. Tickets are $22-38 and available at 847-673-6300 or All programming is subject to change. For information about DRDT, visit

Photo of When Men by Ken Carl.

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