Sunday, December 13, 2020



Dominique Atwood

Deeply Rooted Productions (DRP), the umbrella organization of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT), is restructuring its administrative management team to support its growth during its 25th year.
Jacquelyn Smiley Robinson has resigned from her position as managing director, effective December 11, 2020. I have been honored to serve Deeply Rooted during the past 14 months. I remain a fervent supporter of the company and its mission to increase the visibility of Black dance in Chicago and beyond. It is with much appreciation, respect, and admiration that I move on to my next challenge.”
Following Robinson’s departure, Deeply Rooted is restructuring its administrative management team, effective January 4, 2021. Dominique Atwood, who has served as operations and development manager for four years and danced with the company since 2014, will stop dancing to move into the full-time position of development director. She will collaborate with leadership consultant Karen Brown, who will focus on supporting strategic planning and major fundraising opportunities. Brown served as artistic director of Oakland Ballet and executive director of Garth Fagan Dance. She was a principal ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem for 22 years. She is also a passionate dance educator, recently joining the Conservatory faculty at University of Missouri-Kansas City, where Deeply Rooted Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott is on faculty.


Co-Founder Kevin Iega Jeff, who was reappointed executive director in 2015 and creative director in 2019, will continue to provide consistent leadership as the organization develops plans to hire an operations director in 2021. Jeff remains on the Artistic Team with Abbott, Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer, Dance Education Director Tracey Franklin, and Rehearsal Director Joshua L. Ishmon.
“I enjoyed Jackie’s love and passion for dance, especially Black dance, and I will truly miss her collaborative engagement,” said Jeff. “Yet change is inevitable, and we must always do our best to be prepared for change. I’m thankful to Jackie and our wonderful staff for working together to ensure the company’s growth this year, which was relatively good during very challenging times. We are positioned for success as we pursue our three primary objectives: investing in our dancers and staff, realizing our collaborative vision for a state-of-the-art South Side Center for Black Dance and Creative Communities, and producing world-class dance performances for expanded audiences, in person and virtually, led by Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer.”
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 programs are partially supported by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Driehaus Foundation, the Arts Work Fund and Smart Growth program of the Chicago Community Trust, 3Arts, Allstate, the Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks Program, CityArts grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Ginger Farley Charitable Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation, the Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Gilbert Fund, Irving Harris Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Illinois Humanities, the International Association of Blacks in Dance, the Joyce Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, PNC, the University of Chicago’s Accelerator Program, US Bank, and Deeply Rooted Family of Friends. Special thanks to the Athenaeum Theatre, Auditorium Theatre, Ballet Chicago, the Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, the Chicago Park District, Hyde Park School of Dance, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Maywood Fine Arts Academy, and St. Benedict the African Church for their partnership and support.
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