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Synopsis: ‘UPROOTED’ is a feature-length documentary celebrating the history, lineage, and future progressions of jazz dance. With a stellar cast of leading industry experts, award-winning choreographers, and legendary performers. A ground-breaking documentary going back to the roots in Africa and following the evolution of this incredible dance form through every single decade and genre. Exploring and commenting on political and social influences, the film is an honest conversation about jazz dance addressing topics such as appropriation, racism, socialism, and sexism. UPROOTED is a story of triumph over adversity, oppression, and privilege as well as a celebration, because ultimately, what all people have in common is rhythm and a basic human need to get down with special appearances by Debbie Allen, George Faison, Chita Rivera, Camille A. Brown and Thomas F. DeFrantz. ‘UPROOTED’ also showcases the works of the Nicholas Brothers, Pepsi Bethel, Jack Cole, Katherine Dunham, Bob Fosse and Gene Kelly.



Run Time

94 minutes


Debbie Allen
Chita Rivera
Mandy Moore
Camille A.Brown
Jason Samuels Smith

Directed by

Khadifa Wong

Produced by

Lisa Donmall-Reeve

Edited by

Joan Gill Amorim


Matt Simpkins

Director's Statement

A Dance piece or trend is so often a reflection of our society, but jazz dance for me is an example of how our society should be, in a constant state of free evolution that welcomes new practitioners regardless of class, colour or gender.
The film aims to not only educate people about jazz dance’s lineage and history but also to inspire the dancer of tomorrow to keep this art form alive.
As an art form rooted in slavery it has been interesting to chart its journey and see how it has been modified, what worries me is that because of its roots, the respect from the artistic community is not as reverent as it should be, where is the funding? Where are the world touring companies? Where is the resistance? Right now we are having to show the world Black lives matter, here is one example of why. Jazz, we gave that to the world and I want to create a film to celebrate that fact.
We tried to visually capture dance from a dancers point of view, we infused the film with rhythm as almost everyone we interviewed said the music was integral to them and as you will see it unites so many different people. Rhythm was at the heart of the film’s look and feel because it is rhythm that unites us as humans.
I wanted to create a film that will shine a light on this art form, we have a lot of contributors because jazz has evolved into such a diverse art form. The filmmakers came from various dance backgrounds so we wanted to highlight as many of them as we could. They all deserve to have a platform. We then set those observations and experiences to a linear examination of American history, focusing on the black experience and the presence of the European influence.
I can’t think of a better way to usher in the second century of this art form than with a film made by people that love jazz dance and believe it matters as much as life.

Director's Bio

Khadifa is an award-winning Director. She trained at the iconic London Studio Centre in all aspects of dance. After 10 years as a Dancer she moved to New York to further study acting.
On her return to London, frustrated by the lack of opportunities for actresses of colour, Khadifa wrote, produced and acted in a web series based on her New York experiences. It was then that Khadifa realised her true passion lay behind the camera and she formed her production company to help increase diversity on both sides of the camera. Since then, Khadifa has Directed, The Woman Who Knocked On My Door (Best Indie Short, LA Film Awards) with Finelight Films and executive produced a further 3 multi award winning short films. In 2019 Khadifa directed Black Women Dating White Men Written by Somebody Jones at the Drayton Arms Theatre. Uprooted is her feature-length film directorial debut.

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