Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Returns to New York with GENERATIONS II A multigenerational repertory dance project

Contact: Torya Beard 718.930.6387

November 10, 2014/Brooklyn, NY Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater returns to the Mark Morris Dance Center with Generations II, November 21-23, 2014. Generations II is the second installation of the five-part Generations Initiative. Launched in 2013, the multigenerational repertory project features classic and new works by choreographers representing the scope of the continuum of dance that forms Deeply Rooted’s legacy. In collaborating with nationally renowned choreographers across the spectrum of modern, ballet, and African dance, The 2014 New York season features works by Kevin Iega Jeff, Gary Abbott, Nicole Clarke-Springer and MenCa offering three New York premieres.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater presents Generations II November 21-23. Tickets are $30 General Admission, $75 Benefactor ticket with discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Performance Schedule:  Fri & Sat 7:30pm; Sun 3:00pm. 45 Degrees Project workshop class Sun, November 16, 4-6 pm.  For tickets call 312-795-9777 or visit The James and Martha Duffy Performance Space at the Mark Morris Dance Center is located at 3 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.


The program features two works choreographed, in collaboration, by Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott. ”Ferrotype” is a 45-minute ballet set to a musical soundtrack including; Gula Island Traditional Spirituals, Thomas A. Dorsey, Georgia Tom, Anton Dvorak, Nikki Giovanni, Clarence Williams' Blue Five, and Mavis Staples. ”Ferrotype,”  inspired by portraits of African-American families from the turn of the 20th century,  is named after a photographic technique of the same period. The second collaboration, "Heaven," is set to an original score by  Janice Pendarvis and Anthony Moten examines the idea that heaven is a state of mind. New York Premieres include; Gary Abbott's "Here's to Life,” a contemporary look at relationships set to the music of Shirley Horn, the prayerful ”Cristo Redento," set the the music of Donald Byrd choreographed by MenCa, and "When Lambs Become Lions," a female empowerment dance, choreographed by Nicole Clark Springer. Kevin Iega's lush duet “Wild Is The Wind” set to music by Nina Simone, rounds out the program.


Kevin Iega Jeff (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer) trained at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, New York City’s High School for the Performing Arts, Darvash Ballet School, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center before matriculating into The Juilliard School.  As a dancer, he has been praised for his technical brilliance and rigor, his dramatic power, and the singular ability to perform and bridge different dance forms in a seamless manner. Jeff founded JUBILATION! Dance Company in 1982 at the age of 21 in New York City while continuing to perform. In 1994, he left New York to take an appointment as Artistic Director of Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater. In 1995, he co-founded Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago, where he continues to serve as Artistic Director, with Associate Artistic Director, Gary Abbott.

In 2005, Kevin Iega Jeff was named as one of The Juilliard School’s 100 Outstanding Alumni in celebration of the school’s centenary anniversary.  Among his other awards are those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council for Culture and Arts, and the BTAA Best Choreography award for Church of Nations. He received a Merit Award from the International Association of Blacks in Dance and joined their Board in January 2006. Iega has served as artist-in-residence at Howard University, the University of Las Vegas, Goucher College, SUNY Purchase and Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center. His work is featured in several films, including Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It”, and in the Broadway shows “Comin’ Uptown” and “The Wiz.”  Iega’s “Walls” premiered at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA.

Gary Abbott (Associate Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer) began his career as a dancer in Atlanta, GA with Barbara Sullivan’s Atlanta Dance Theatre.  There he developed his interest in choreography and created works for musicals presented by Jomandi Productions and The Clark College Players.  At California Institute of the Arts, Abbott studied with dance legends Crystine Lawson, Nicholas Gunn and Mia Slavenska.  He later danced with Lula Washington Dance Theatre and Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theatre.

In 1985, Abbott was invited to dance with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble of Denver, CO where he created several dances that are still a part of the company’s repertoire. His career there allowed Abbott to study with many great luminaries of the dance world including; Katherine Dunham, Donald McKayle, Eleo Pomare and Kevin Iega Jeff.  Abbott brought his choreographic talents to The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in the shows Star Fever (based on The Bacchae by Euripides) and Don Quixote directed by Pavel Dobrusky.  Abbott continued to work with Mr. Dobrusky at the Cleveland Playhouse, where he served as choreographer for the play Yerma by Federico Garcia Lorca.  Gary has been directing artistic programming in the Gillette, WY community for nearly 25 years.

In 2003, Iega and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott co-choreographed Jagged Ledges, featuring Tony Award-winning spoken word artist Staceyann Chin. In 2006, he and Abbott were commissioned to choreograph Three Brazilian Dances for the Chicago Sinfonietta, which premiered at Chicago’s Symphony Hall. From 2001-2003, Abbott served as choreographer and Jeff as director for Black Nativity presented by the Penumbra Theatre. 

Nicole Clarke-Springer (Dance Education Director/Choreographer) Clarke-Springer began formal training under the guidance of Claudette Soltis (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Joliet Ballet Society) and the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre under Dace Diodonis.   She received her B.S. in Arts Administration-Dance from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN where she received the award as Butler Ballet’s Outstanding Performer.

 As a member of Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Nicole performed with Roberta Flack and Jennifer Holiday in Kevin Iega Jeff’s Flack and Penumbra Theatre’s Black Nativity respectively. In addition to performing with the Clifton Brown Dance Company, she served as Adjunct Professor at Western Kentucky University’s Dance Department  and was Assistant Choreographer to Kevin Iega Jeff for Congo Square Theatre’s Nativity. In 2013, Nicole was named Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre’s Emerging Choreographer for the program Generations and later, joined Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott as the newest member of the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre’s Artistic Team.

MenCa (Instructor/Rehearsal Coach/Choreographer) The [bio]-Kemitcal essence of Men Ca is in the name: mata is energy from the nucleus of the ca'nscious atam.  A practitioner of defining that which he does through that which he is (i.e., Men Ca), his absolute Art and Science is simply to be ca'nscious at all times, in all times, thus defining the life force energy of love and understanding.


Deeply Rooted Dance Theater evolved from, “JUBILATION! Dance Company,” created by Jeff to provide a forum for African-American artists to be nurtured holistically through the arts.  For ten years, the company toured nationally and internationally, helping to bring the stories, histories, and art of African American people to a global audience. The mission of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is to re-imagine and diversify the aesthetics of contemporary dance by bringing together modern, classical, and African-American traditions in dance. Deeply Rooted Dance Theater is a community of artists committed to individual and collective actualization. We are dedicated to nurturing artists, developing new choreography, expanding audiences, supporting human relationships and sharing common values by engaging in dance.

“Contemporary, African-based dance troupe delivers an elegant, provocative series of works by Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott. The intimate nature of their choreography has a powerful impact.” -Lucia Mauro, Chicago Tribune