Kevin Iega Jeff is an accomplished dancer, award-winning choreographer, acclaimed artistic director, respected dance educator, and innovative executive leader. He creates transcendent works while inspiring those around him to foster extraordinary lives, onstage and off, through dance/art-making.
After 24 years of artistic and executive leadership, Jeff stepped down as artistic/executive director of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) in September 2019 to assume his new role as creative director of Deeply Rooted Productions, DRDT’s long-established umbrella organization. In his evolved role, he is leading the company’s newly formed Special Projects division and the development of a new home for the company on Chicago’s South Side. Deeply Rooted established its Special Projects division to create interdisciplinary works for expanded markets. Under Jeff’s leadership, GOSHEN, with music by Grammy Award winner Donald Lawrence, is the first special project in development. (Prior to the spread of COVID-19, GOSHEN was scheduled to premiere at the Broadway Playhouse in May 2020 in partnership with Quiet Waters Productions and Broadway In Chicago. The premiere will instead take place during the 2021/2022 season.)
As an independent artist, Jeff collaborates on a wide range of professional and community-based projects across the country. His work has been featured in several films, including Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It; on television on The Academy Awards; and on Broadway in The Wiz and Comin’ Uptown. In 2005, the Juilliard School named Jeff one of its 100 Outstanding Alumni in celebration of the school’s centenary anniversary. He has also received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council for Culture and Art, Chicago Black Theater Alliance Awards, and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist program. Jeff has taught and lectured nationally and internationally at public and private schools, community organizations, universities, colleges, and cultural institutions, including Howard University, Purdue University, Point Park University, the Frye Museum, the University of Kansas City Missouri, the University of Chicago (UChicago), UMass, and the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. Led by Jeff’s vision to establish a state-of-the-art dance center with a division dedicated to African-American (Black) dance, Deeply Rooted received a 2018 grant from the Arts Work Fund of Chicago to support the planning of a South Side dance center in collaboration with UChicago, the Chicago Community Loan Fund, and Studio One.
In January 2020, Newcity magazine recognized Jeff among the top 10 Players 2020: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago. That same month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed him to the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
Speaking about his work, personal philosophy, and mission, Jeff shares: “I am made possible by the energies of Creation and influenced by those who have come before me. I am because they were and are. I am born liberated into the possibility of me and empowered by free thought. I pray to be respectful and courageous and to think wisely. I strive to analyze and dismantle oppressive thoughts and systems through forums that inspire human evolution with creativity. I want my work to grow truer, more focused, and relevant as time passes. My artistic practice is borne out of personal and human examination, and my desire to communicate authentically informs what I create. For me, dance/art-making is a perfect catalyst for revealing the genius inherited within our spiritual and cellular beings, reflecting who we are and who we strive to become.”