Featured event: Deeply Rooted’s Summer Dance Intensive returns to the studio, keeping online options open for dancers worldwide

Summer is a time for young people to commit to a passion with even greater intensity. Every year, a group of promising young dancers, chosen by audition, do just that, spending four weeks learning, training and performing as part of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s Summer Dance Intensive (SDI).

Participants experience a rigorous curriculum that includes classes based in techniques such as Horton, Graham, ballet and contemporary movement, as well as learning the company’s repertory through workshops and performances. Personal growth, an important part of SDI, is embodied in The Continuum, a series of guided conversations on self-awareness and personal growth informed by each participant’s creativity and artistic process.

SDI shifted to a virtual platform in 2020 due to the pandemic, but thanks to recent improvements in the public health climate, the program will take place in a hybrid format this year. “We’re aiming to provide a nurturing and creative space of healing this summer,” said Deeply Rooted artistic director Nicole Clarke-Springer. “So, we’re offering a limited capacity in-studio program. And because we had such success with our virtual program last summer, including international participation, we will also offer an online option.” The in-studio component, held at Ballet Chicago and the Sheraton Grand Hotel, will comply with CDC and studio guidelines.

The 2021 program runs June 21–July 17. Joining Deeply Rooted artistic team members Gary Abbott, Nicole Clarke-Springer, Joshua Ishmon and Kevin Iega Jeff and dance education director Tracey Franklin are guest instructors Karen Brown, former principal ballerina with Dance Theatre of Harlem; Paige Fraser, former cast member of The Lion King National Tour; Dereque Whiturs, former principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; and more.

The Emerging Choreographers Showcase (ECS), an advanced division of SDI, encourages choreographers and SDI participants to cultivate creativity, deepen technical skill and gain performance readiness. To help them reach their choreographic vision, choreographers have access to rehearsal space, dancers and administrative support. This year’s ECS choreographer is Avree Walker, rehearsal director, resident choreographer and program director of the ARTSWORK Conservatory and pre-professional program for Contemporary West Dance Theatre and instructor and choreographer at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.


SDI concludes with performances July 16 and 17 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel that will showcase Walker’s work in progress and the SDI participants’ training and artistic development. These performances are open to the public. For more information, visit deeplyrooteddancetheater.org.