About The Dancers

Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is rooted in traditions of American and African-American dance, storytelling, and universal themes that spark a visceral experience and ignite an emotional response in diverse audiences worldwide. DRDT collaborates with nationally renowned choreographers, across the spectrum of modern, ballet, and African dance, to reflect contemporary voices.

In Chicago, the company has performed at numerous renowned venues including the Auditorium Theater, the Shubert Theater, The Dance Center of Columbia College, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. In November 2017 DRDT will host its 20th Anniversary finale at Chicago’s newly renovated Studebaker Theater at the Fine Arts Building.

Dominique Atwood

Dominique Atwood is from Dayton, Ohio where she started her training at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Later, she studied dance at Stivers School for the Performing Arts and Howard University under the direction of DeShonna Pepper-Robertson. While at Howard, she co-founded of the first Contemporary Dance Company on Howard University’s campus, I.AM.WE and currently is the Artistic Director of Dayo N Dance Contemporary Performance Company. Ms. Atwood has danced with Dissonance Dance Theater, Black Pearl Dance Theater, The Princess Mhoon Dance Project and Maverick Lemons Dance Project. She has choreographed and directed concert, theater and commercial productions including, but not limited to the Miss Intercontinental United States pageant, Georgetown University’s Annual Dance Spring Concert and Outcry The Play (Mid Atlantic Regional Premier). However, she is most passionate in the area of teaching and giving back the art of dance to the next generation of artists. Dominique is honored to be apart of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s family.

Joshua Ishmon

Joshua L. Ishmon was born and raised in Gary, IN. He is a 2007 graduate of Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts where he also studied with Ballet Chicago and M.A.D.D. Rhythms. After graduating, Ishmon joined Deeply Rooted Dance Theater 2 and in 2009, he matriculated into the 1st company. He is now a co-rehearsal director, a co-founder and the Artistic/Producing Director of Deeply Rooted’s Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase in addition to continuing to dance with the company. Ishmon is also a member of Winifred R. Harris’ Between Lines (Denver, CO), Seamless Dance Theater (Kansas City, MO), a guest artist with Ballet Chicago as well as Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and has shared the stage with Bobby McFerrin. Joshua is always in a constant pursuit of deepening his artistry, continuing to grow, and must pay homage to the amazing people whose shoulders’ he stands on.

Pierre Clark

Pierre Clark was born and raised in Chicago. He began his dance training at the age of nineteen at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Tap. Pierre danced with other companies like Milwaukee Dance Connection, Forces of Nature, and Kashe Dance Company. He has done productions such as Disney World “Beauty and the Beast”, Elton John and Tim Rice production of “Aida” (Bailiwick Chicago), and Black Ensemble Theaters “The Black Nativity” (where he also served as rehearsal director). He is now a proud first company member with Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre hoping to continuously inspire others through dance.

Rebekah Kuczma

Rebekah Kuczma (company member since 2015) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received the majority of her dance education and training. She was introduced to modern dance while attending the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts middle and high school- where she met teacher and mentor, Greer Reed. Rebekah continued her dance training at Point Park University, performing works by Toru Shimazaki, Kevin Iega Jeff, Kiesha Lalama, and more; simultaneously working professionally with the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (AWCDE, director, Greer Reed) and improv based company, the Pillow Project (director, Pearlann Porter). Some highlights of her career include: two European tours with The Pillow Project, performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Jacob’s Pillow with REED Dance (formerly AWCDE), and working in Steamboat Springs, CO with Antonio Brown Dance in residency at Perry Mansfield. She is currently working with Winifred Haun & Dancers (director, Winifred Haun) .Rebekah is extremely grateful to be a company member of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, as the company and directors have been a constant inspiration to her over the years.

Marlayna Locklear

Marlayna Locklear hails from Milwaukee,WI. She is recently completed her eighth season with Dayton Contemporay Dance Company(DCDC ) and is now a freelance artist. She began her training at the age of 12 at city ballet theatre and went on to graduate from Milwaukee High School of the Arts and University of the Arts In Philadelphia, PA with a BFA in Ballet and Jazz. Marlayna was one of the founding members of The Milwaukee Dance Connection and has gone on to dance with Eleone Dance Theatre, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre II and DCDC.She has performed works by Christopher Huggins, Dwight Rhoden, Ron Brown, Donald Byrd, Diane McIntyre and Ray Mercer to name a few. She also has worked with members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Momix, Martha Graham Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Milwaukee Ballet, Philadanco, Koresh, Full Circle Dance Company and members of seasons 1 & 2 of So you think you can dance. She most recently finished filming the James Franco Film “Blood Heist” out in theaters summer 2017.

Nyemah Stuart

Nyemah Stuart was born and raised in New York City, she began her dance training at the age of five at the Uptown Dance Academy. She continued training at Professional Performing Arts High School, which had a dance program tied to The Ailey School. After graduating High School she studied ballet at The Dance Theatre of Harlem as a scholarship student. Stuart is currently a dancer with Harambee Dance Company under the direction of Sandella Malloy, she is also a member of Time Lapse Dance under the direction of Jody Sperling. Stuart has matriculated through the Deeply Rooted Summer Intensive and apprenticeship to company member. Stuart is honored and excited to continue elevating her artistic voice through Deeply Rooted’s Repertoire. “For as long as I can remember dance has been a part of my life, I do not feel alive or fulfilled if I am not dancing. I am thankful for this craft for it continues to keep me focused and allows me to express myself, because words are never enough.”

Nina-Rose Wardanian

Nina-Rose Wardanian is originally from Chicago, IL. She began her formal training at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, under the direction of Randy Duncan, Guillermo Leyva, Deborah Goodman and the late Anna Paskevska. While in high school, she worked with choreographers such as Eduardo Vilaro, Nick Pupillo, and Eddie Ocampo. She also attended Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, where she studied under Homer Bryant, and later went on to teach classes. Upon graduating, she attended the University of Missouri Kansas City, taught by Deeanna Hiett, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Rodni Williams, Mary Pat Henry, and Paula Weber. She has performed nationally representing UMKC at the American College Dance Association’s annual festivals. From there Nina went on to join the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, where she performed numerous works by Artistic Director Bernard Gaddis as well as “Vespers” by Ulysses Dove. She was a founding cast member and dance captain for the Lawrence Arts Center’s “Midnight Visit to the Grave of Poe.” Nina’s path led her to Deeply Rooted in 2012, and she is so blessed and excited to continue the journey.

The Apprentices

  • Charles Buckner
  • Shanna Cruzat
  • Jessika Howard
  • Caroline Dahm
  • Marina Shortino
  • Nyemah Stuart
  • Yvonne Winborne