Touch presented by Deeply Rooted Dance Theater was a rich depiction of African American culture. The company was made up of nine male and female dancers including Brian Harlan Brooks, Tracey Franklin, Joshua L. Ishmon, Cecelia Webster Jones, Carmel G. Louis, Carolina Monnerat, Tyrell V. Rolle and Kathleen Turner as well as choreographers Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott. The program featured four separate themed dances with a common message about deeply rooted African American heritage.
The first, a modern dance called Nine performed by the whole troupe, as well as an additional small ensemble was set to traditional African music. The second dance, Ferrotype was a beautiful combination of ballet and modern technique, telling the story of the trials and tribulations of an African American family in the early 20th century. With tales of first love, life on the Vaudeville stage and the death of their father, the display of a family’s love and loss moved the audience to tears.
The third dance, Inhale was performed in a series of three movements. The first movement, a duet, told a story of love and loss set to a soulful rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s Somewhere sung by Aretha Franklin. The second movement called Wild as the Wind, also a duet, set to sensual poetry and consisted of many lifts and received a standing ovation from an astounded audience. The third movement Sweet in the Morning, performed by four dancers both separately and simultaneously, was also very intimate in nature. The final piece, Church of Nations, was performed by the entire troupe and ensemble. The dancers used folding chairs as props to display their feelings toward the church.
In its 40,000 square feet of architectural splendor, the Harold Washington Cultural Center serves as both a performing arts facility as well as host to youth afterschool programs with a concentration on the preservation and protection of African American culture. The center's location is that of the former Regal Theater, which hosted historical performers such as Duke Ellington and Count Bsie. Founded in 2004 in the South Side’s Grand Boulevard/Bronzeville neighborhood, the center is a very important fixture in the black community and is sustained through private donations and sponsorships.
Touch was a striking performance that obviously instilled a great deal of pride into the dancers and those who watched it.
Harold Washington Cultural Center
4701 Martin Luther King Drive
Chicago, IL 60653
Deeply Rooted Productions
17 N. State Street Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60602