Friday, July 20, 2018

Deeply Rooted Alumni: Where Are They Now? Nicole Clarke-Springer

Nicole Clarke-Springer

Nicole Clarke-Springer, an alumna of DRDT’s apprentice program, is currently the company’s Dance Education Director. She received her B.S. in arts administration-dance from Butler University in Indianapolis, where she was awarded Butler Ballet’s Outstanding Performer. Shortly after graduating, she found her dance home within the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre family, first as an apprentice and later as company member. With DRDT she has performed with Roberta Flack in Kevin Iega Jeff’s Flack and Jennifer Holiday in the world-renowned Penumbra Theatre’s Black Nativity. In 2007, she briefly left DRDT and served as adjunct professor at Western Kentucky University’s Dance Department and toured to Istanbul with Clifton Brown Dance Company. She returned to DRDT as Summer Intensive program director and began deepening her choreographic voice, creating and later setting works such as Nine, Dounia and Femme for the first and second companies. She also served as assistant choreographer to Kevin Iega Jeff for Congo Square Theatre’s Nativity for two years. She joined DRDT’s Artistic Team in 2013 and was named emerging choreographer for the program Generations. In 2015, she traveled with DRDT to the Jomba! Dance Festival hosted by Flatfoot Dance Company where she had the pleasure of setting her ballet Until Lambs Become Lions on the host company. She recently choreographed the opening number for the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Show- Halloween Celebration.
What first brought you to Deeply Rooted? 
I was in the very first summer intensive class! I “stumbled” upon Deeply Rooted. I was teaching dance at Chicago State University and saving money to relocate to New York with plans to study with the Ailey program. A friend had told me about the company and encouraged me to audition for Deeply Rooted’s Apprentice program. I decided to go, thinking it would be a free class if nothing else, and found myself worked into a frenzy! The energy in the space was electric, and the voice in my head was clear and loud and said, “You are never leaving here. This is home.” I then matriculated through the program as an Apprentice and later performed with the company.

How has your experience with Deeply Rooted affected your perspective on teaching? On choreography? 
My experience with Deeply Rooted has not only influenced but affirms the work that I do as an instructor and choreographer. The Deeply process is more than steps; it is a process that teaches life skills and gives you the fortitude to move forward despite the challenges that come towards you. My mission through my teaching and choreography is to inspire, ignite and create individuals thru self-actualization.

What do you feel is the most important lesson you’ve learned from being part of Deeply Rooted? As a teacher, what is the most important thing you hope to impart to your students? 
 Self-actualization is the basis for the Deeply Rooted mission and is key to being an artist in our process. A huge part of discovering who you are as an artist is being open to process and realizing that this is a neverending journey. You must be honest with yourself and your approach to the work. Once that work is done, you then are held accountable to the work. I teach and choreograph from this perspective, especially during the Summer Intensive. The process is intense and at times extremely difficult. However, if you understand who you are, why you are here and your importance, the steps become a language for communication and are easier to learn.
What’s coming up for you that you’re excited about? 
I am excited for the upcoming season with our main company. I also have a female choreography showcase called Femme Festival in the works and lots of teaching throughout the Chicagoland area. However, I’m most excited for a much-needed vacation!
Your chance to see the next generation is this weekend!
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s Summer Intensive
and Emerging Choreographers Showcase performances
take place Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. at
the Reva and David Logan Center for the Performing Arts,
915 E. 60th Street, Chicago. Tickets are $25–50.
Tickets to the July 20 performance are available at
Tickets to the July 21 performance are available at
For information, visit

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