The tragic murder of Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago last winter sparked debate about rampant violence in the city, but it also inspired a piece by a local dance choreographer as part of a larger show called “Generations” set to debut Friday.
Nicole Clarke-Springer (pictured far right) of the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater said she was deeply saddened by Pendleton’s killing.
Watch a sneak peek of rehearsals for “Hadiya” here:
“When the incident with Hadiya Pendleton occurred, I was really struck by it, and hurt by it as a mother,” she told DNAinfo Chicago. Springer has two daughters herself.
The name “Hadiya” drew Springer’s attention and she spent time looking it up.
“When I had heard about the story, I kept concentrating on her name and looking at her face, and there was such a light from it, and [a] voice said, ‘What does her name mean?'” she added. “I researched it, and it was ‘spiritual guide.’ And I thought, ‘that’s the name of my ballet. That’s exactly what it should be: It should be ‘Hadiya.'”
“Hadiya” is not about the 15-year-old’s life story, nor does it tackle her death. But the tragedy originates from spiritual struggles that people endure as it pertains to violence, Clarke says.
“When you see the ballet, you won’t view any of the events that occurred about her life,” she said. “It’s more of an influence of the name: spiritual guide, Hadiya, connecting with our guides … listening out for that small voice that pushes us to our higher self.”
Pendleton’s parents say they support the piece’s message.
“I think that anything that’s putting out a positive message is a very good thing for our society and our neighborhood,” said Nate Pendleton, Hadiya’s father. “Anything that can uplift the kids, we both feel, is pertinent to them today … anything that’s on a positive note, we absolutely support it.”
The five-year “Generations” exhibit will not only feature the “Hadiya” piece, but will also represent the beginning of new artistic leadership, according to Kevin Iega Jeff, artistic director for the company.
“Over the next five years, we’ll be expanding the artistic team, and also developing the management team. We’re beginning to pass the reins onto new leadership,”he said.