Friday, May 8, 2020


Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Beyond Dance, an initiative the company launched in April, continues with more classes and its Continuum in May. The program, which encompasses education, conversation, and performance, is both a response to the COVID-19 crisis and integral to the company’s mission and philosophy.
Virtual classes began in April and continue through May, including the Youth Ensemble (May 17, 24, and 31), Mature H.O.T. (Health-conscious, Optimistic, Triumphant) Women (May 12, 19, and 26), and DRDT Company Class (May 14, 21, and 28), which welcomes guest instructors Krystal Hall-Glass and Tracey Franklin.

Hall-Glass, who performed in The Wiz on Broadway and went on to an illustrious performing career, became the first African-American graduate from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance with an MFA in performance/teaching. Under her directorship at the famed Harlem School of the Arts, more than 50 students were accepted into professional performing arts dance programs within a five-year period.

Franklin, a Chicago native, began her training at age 16 at Joseph Holmes Dance Theater and graduated from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Certificate Program in 1999. In 2000, she started a four-year stint as a company member of Dallas Black Dance Theater, then returned to Chicago in 2004 to join Deeply Rooted, where she was a company member for 12 years. She is currently the department head assistant and teaches Horton Technique at the Chicago High School for the Arts. She is also an instructor at the Hyde Park School of Dance and Studio One in the Chicago area.

The Continuum Process, under the leadership of DRDT Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer and members of DRDT's Artistic Team, is a series of virtual guided discussions on self-awareness and personal growth informed by each participant’s creativity and artistic process. Students participate in a warm-up class to learn choreography phrases of a specific work and transition into a guided conversation about that work/choreography. The April session featured Deeply Rooted Co-Founder Kevin Iega Jeff’'s Church of Nations.

The next session takes place May 28 (rather than the previously announced May 21 and June 18) and features guest instructor Fana Tshabalala from South Africa.

Tshabalala previously worked with Deeply Rooted on the 2017 premiere of an American/Chicago-focused adaptation of his work INDUMBA, which will make up the content of this Continuum session. He has choreographed and performed nationally and internationally, including Lena Dance Company in Sweden, Dance Umbrella 2018 in Geneva, and Dance Dialogue Africa, which toured Germany and 12 African countries. He is co-founder and currently a director for Broken Borders Arts Project based at the University of Johannesburg.

DRDT’s Summer Dance Intensive and Emerging Choreographers Showcase are still scheduled June 22–July 18; more specific plans will be announced later this month.

As announced in April by Clarke-Springer, DRDT “reaffirms its commitment to providing programming that is not only nurturing but also develops and supports community and human relationships in a time when we find ourselves needing it the most.”

Classes and The Continuum Process is free; donations are encouraged.
Registration is available on EventBrite:

Youth Ensemble here
Mature H.O.T. Women here
DRDT Company Class here
The Continuum Process here
Premiering in 1996, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is rooted in traditions of modern, contemporary, and African dance, as well as storytelling, in 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 eclectic voices in contemporary life.
Deeply Rooted’s programs are partially supported by the Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Arts Work Fund and Smart Growth program of the Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks Program, Ginger Farley Charitable Fund at the Chicago Community Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, International Association of Blacks in Dance, Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley Jr. Family Foundation, Reva and David Logan Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Deeply Rooted Family of Friends. Special thanks to Ballet Chicago, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Park District, Reva and David Logan Center, and St. Benedict the African Church for their partnership and support.
Photos top to bottom:
Krystall Hall-Glass (L) courtesy of the artist.
Tracey Franklin by Ken Carl.
Fana Tshabalala by Ken Carl.

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