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Dance Tue Nov 10 2009

Deeply Rooted in the Community

DRDT 1

The impact of arts in the community is undeniable; without it, we would be devoid of the beautiful contributions that dancers, artists and poets bring to the world. Iega, a native New Yorker now "deeply rooted" in Chicago understands this; here, he talks about why the arts must continue to be an integral part of our society.

You have over 20 years of experience in every aspect of the arts, how did you get started?
I started out in the theatre at an early age; I always loved the arts. I was exposed mostly to dance, though. My first [formal] exposure came from my days in New York, performing in talent shows. Broadway professionals would set up workshops in the community where I grew up--high quality workshops with top notch sets, costumes, venues, etc. These workshops were available to kids from all socio-economic backgrounds.

What brought you to Chicago?
I had a dance company in New York for about 13 years but decided to discontinue it and freelance. While freelancing, I was asked to come to Chicago to be a director at the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater. I did that for a year and then decided I needed to do something fresh. That's when I co-founded Deeply Rooted Productions/Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre. I am also the artistic director.

Describe Deeply Rooted.
Deeply Rooted got started in 1995, and our mission is to use the arts as a catalyst for a self-actualization and community building. The company and the training process [for the dancers] is world class.

These days, art and dance programs are virtually absent from schools--how do you feel about this?
This troubles me. It's so vital for our youth to be able to express themselves artistically. I believe that a country that doesn't understand the power of its cultural institution is a country headed for disaster. When I was in New York, the city was invested in making sure that kids got cultural information. They may not all go on to Broadway, but at least they got the experience. With the arts, you learn about your humanity. I feel the greater fabric of our connection as a people is defined by who we are culturally. We're contributing to the world--the more we are aware of that, the better we are going to be.

So it is important to you that the arts remain a vital part community.
With the arts, the communities that have been suffering from a lack of it or who simply don't have it don't get to see its healing power. We're missing out on thousands of kids who may be inclined to access their genius through the arts. Whenever I go into the community, I see that art is underappreciated.

The "underappreciation" brings "Dancing with the Stars" to mind; with Warren Sapp and Emmitt Smith dancing, I wonder if seeing these guys dance could make a difference.
You see, that's the beauty of media--the exposure. I just think people fear becoming fully-realized; we're programmed to think and feel a certain way and are less inclined to be free. Arts in its highest capacity is about freedom--freedom of thought and expression--even using discipline as freedom. The more disciplined you are, the more free you will be.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre's concert series "Touch" debuts in Chicago this week. The program features five performances including Nine, a story about a "superwoman's" challenges with balancing a family and a career, and the title piece, Touch, the ultimate story of the beauty and power of the passion of human intimacy.

Touch will be performed November 13-14 at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. Martin Luther King Drive. The performance is at 7:30pm both nights; tickets are $25-$45. Call 312.795.9777 for more information.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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