Deeply Rooted Celebrates A Banner Year

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The Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is having a banner year as it prepares for the 15th Anniversary Season Finale performance at the Harris Theater on December 9, 2011.

Fresh on the heels of its debut performance at the Black Dance Festival in Pittsburgh, reviews say the Chicago-based dance company’s work set itself apart.

Rain did not deter Deeply Rooted's Artistic Director Kevin Iega Jeff from celebrating the installation of the company's banners along Michigan Avenue from Monroe to Randolph Streets. This is the first time a local African American arts organization has been showcased on light posts on the city's famed boulevard. The Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is preparing for its 15th Anniversary Season Finale performance at the Harris Theater on December 9, 2011. (Click the image to see full size)

Upon the company’s return to Chicago, the dancers were greeted by 8-foot banners announcing the crystal anniversary. This is the first time a local African American arts organization has been on display on the city’s famed Michigan Avenue. Deeply Rooted’s banners are draping the light poles on both sides of the street, from Monroe to Randolph Streets.

“The banners are beautiful,” says Artistic Director Kevin Iega Jeff. “When our dancers saw them they were so excited.”

Deeply Rooted’s season finale will premiere two works, “Bach’d” and “Chicago Women of Song.” The latter pays tribute to seven women vocalists associated with Chicago–Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Mavis Staples, Minnie Riperton, Chaka Khan, Anita O’Day and Jennifer Hudson. Their works cover the musical spectrum of gospel, jazz and rhythm
and blues.

“Their voices flow through the legacy of the African American experience, helping us connect to our shared values in humanity, to rejoice in those values, feel each other’s pain, laugh when we feel like crying and cry when we need to get it out,” explains Jeff.

Adding to the company’s banner year was an opportunity to appear on Good Morning America’s segment “Just Three Words” in September. Out of 12 live shots that spanned the globe, including from Afghanistan, Deeply Rooted was the only Midwest representation–performing from Millennium Park.

“In the last few months, we have come full circle. First, the world saw our dancers in Millennium Park, now our company is being showcased along Michigan Avenue in front of Millennium Park and next month, we’ll be performing at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park. We are truly Chicago’s own,” says Jeff, a New York transplant.