Shruti is a soul searcher who takes risks to explore and follow her heart. At an early age, her curiosity was encouraged. She was born in India and spent her first decade running around the streets – sometimes barefoot – playing badminton, climbing trees, following her actor cousin to stages and yoga ashrams, analyzing soulful movies with her philosophical sister, and painting with her artist cousin’s leftover supplies.
You would think that her passion for discoveries would land her in bliss when she moved to the US with her family at age 9; instead she felt uprooted. Shruti fought hard to maneuver the new world: she tried to follow a western lifestyle and that didn’t suit her family; she tried to hold true to the eastern traditions and that made her an outcast in the new culture. Her longing to fit in led her to have a troubled, wayward childhood, but her innate desire to pursue what was true to her led her out of the abyss.
She doubled her efforts to find what worked for her amid all of the expectations. She fell in love with accounting (yes, that’s possible!) and put herself through college. Her love and tenacity helped her graduate at the top of her class and start her business career at one of the world’s most prestigious accounting firms. She became a CPA and served as a financial executive and a business process and strategy consultant. She explored entrepreneurship and undertook her own real estate developments. Shruti has found much success in business because she’s passionate about what she does, but more so because she has fought hard to stay true to herself and explore her own path. This same quest has helped her rediscover the arts and fall in love with acting.
Shruti’s diverse experiences have afforded her the privilege to be around people from all walks of life. She has found that no matter who it is or where they come from, she has only really experienced genuine connection with them when she has stuck to her own authenticity. She’s discovered that when she shares vulnerably, it creates space for others to do the same with her. Some of the most meaning in her life has come from these genuine connections. She has realized that the desire for connection to self and others is not unique to her, which has led her to create Rooted.
Jacquelynn (Jaci) Camden-Gay, a notorious risk-taker, jumped a flight to Chicago from South Florida a year ago to join the team at Rooted. Spontaneous plane hopping had previously taken her to Miami/Haiti by way of Richmond, VA where she attended Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a BFA in Theatre Performance and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy with a double concentration in Acting/Directing and Voice & Speech. As an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at VCU, she taught courses in Acting, Voice & Speech, and Theatre History and was able to study abroad with the DAH Theatre in Bel Grad, Serbia. During her graduate studies, Jaci was certified as one of only five practitioners of an emerging methodology called Ritual Poetic Drama within the African Continuum. Immersing herself in this process altered the course of her life and gave her the tools to transform her own self-destructive tendencies into healthy expression. She is an alumni member of The Conciliation Project, a social justice theatre company, with whom she traveled throughout the VA/DC region as a facilitator promoting dialogue about issues such as sexism, racism, homelessness & the prison industrial complex in America. After experiencing first-hand the transformative power of art and its ability to provide healing and build community, joining the team at Rooted was the logical next step. As a facilitator, her passion is promoting individual and social transformation by fostering self-knowledge, authenticity, community building and the freeing of one’s body, voice, mind and soul. She believes the creative arts have the power to inform, empower, heal and transform anyone.
Frederick Ford – you can call him Freddie – was born on a Tuesday. As a boy, he drew cartoons and was a good speller. As an adult, he preoccupies himself with travel, fitness, and performance theory. For 10 years he has taught the arts – from acting to creative writing to puppetry to video editing. For 5 years he ran a theatre company specializing in audience interactivity. So far in life he has worked as an actor, model, director, dishwasher, documentary filmmaker, teacher, producer, lifeguard, customer service representative, playwright, golf caddy, educational coordinator, and vending machine restocker. He was raised in St. Louis, has performed in England and Germany, and his favorite places include Denmark, Durango, and Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. One night in Paris, while smoking a cigarette and admiring the Eiffel Tower, Freddie came across Rooted’s call for facilitators. Inspired by the Center’s philosophy and emboldened by his desire for human connection, he set out to become a part of this unique community. At Rooted, Freddie looks forward to creating a space where your self expression requires no apologies. If you take a class with him, you’ll notice that Freddie appreciates eye contact and his favorite word is “fuck”.
Justine Moore-Luparello is a native New Mexican who has been working as a professional actor, dancer and writer for over 25 years. In that time, she has also been teaching movement, acting, and writing one-person monologues—most recently for the BFA program at Catholic University. A spanking new Chicagoan, she just moved here from Washington, D.C. Justine cares deeply about self-expression and authenticity having for years struggled to strip away the “things that she is not” and let go of abusive self-criticism. In that continuing journey, she believes that only through living from our true self can we hope to find peace, clarity, and joy. It is her privilege to facilitate others into a rich, creative state so that everyone in the room continues to empower their own authentic selves and express their unique voices. She holds her MFA in acting from Columbia University and her autobiographical, one-woman play Ecstasy and the Ice Queen was the LA Times Critic’s Choice and a finalist for the Ovation and LA Weekly Award. She has since written the book of her play, Immaterial Girl, which was a finalist for the Young Adult Discovery Award and is currently writing her second novel, Singer and Slave.
Katherine Dingle is a Chicago based performer with a BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University, with additional training from Walkabout Theatre and Accademia dell’Arte. She incorporates elements of clown, mime, live instrumentation, contact improvisation, ritual poetic drama, and archetypes with dance and acrobatics to collaborate and devise highly visceral pieces of original work. She has worked with companies such as Alluvium Group, Oracle Productions, Odradek Theatre, and Redmoon. Katherine firmly believes that there is a deep desire to be rooted in each and every one of us, and she is thrilled to be a part of this team and its efforts to foster that desire and practice in others. In her everyday life she strives to live every moment as a child would, with a sense of wonder and appetite, and hopes to infect everyone she meets with the same attitude. It is her goal to engage strangers in the breaking down of inhibitions while igniting a sense of emotional and creative freedom, and downright ridiculousness. Eventually she will get around to saving the world with her partner in crime, Nora.