In December at the Hyde Park Arts Center, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater performed a program that was a balm for the soul. The company, which celebrates twenty years this season, danced powerful repertory pieces on themes of love, endurance, courage, spirituality and the strength of African-American communities. That program plays again February 4 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie and features works by company co-founders Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott including “The March,” inspired by the Civil Rights movement, and an updated restating of “Jagged Ledges,” a 2004 commission about the struggles of people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as new works by company members Joshua L. Ishmon and Nicole Clarke-Springer that reflect on gender roles of men and women, respectively. Ishmon’s “When Men” features a camo-pants-clad trio, physically grappling with inner demons and angels both; it is a cry for strength in the face of pain and chaos. Clarke-Springer’s “Femme” contrasts from the first beat, a phalanx of women standing tall, eye trained out to the horizon, torsos moving in slow, ultra-controlled waves; the stage is aglow with strength. The program concludes with Jeff and Abbott’s “Heaven,” an inspired, hand-clapping, get-on-your-feet, all-company piece graced by the inclusion of mature dancers from the ensemble. Need to see the best in humanity this weekend? See this show.
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie. (847)673-6300. Saturday, February 4 at 7:30pm. $22-$38. Tickets at northshorecenter.org/event/