Two Oakland artists take on a massive mural in the city's downtown, only to find themselves at the center of the debate over gentrification and cultural resiliency.

Deborah Vaughn

Deborah Brooks Vaughn is the Artistic Director, Principal Choreographer, and co-founder of Dimensions Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company that was founded in Oakland, California in 1972 to promote public awareness of the central role that African - Americans have played in defining American art, culture, and social change. Throughout her career, Deborah has been committed to producing, creating, performing, and teaching dance that reflects the historical experience, struggles, and contemporary lives of African Americans.

Under her artistic leadership, Dimensions Dance Theater presents traditional African dances, as well as original contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and Modern dance idioms. The company also does educational programming, principally through: Rites of Passage, a community based dance program for youth.

Deborah received her M.A. in dance from Mills College. She has traveled and studied traditional dance in West Africa, Zimbabwe, The Congo and throughout the Caribbean. All along, it has been important to the director, for personal reasons, to keep the company with one foot in each sphere – Africa and America, traditional and contemporary, past and present. Deborah’s relationships in the arts community, developed through years of collaborative effort, also enrich her work, bringing many artists together in creative partnerships and linking her choreography with the visual arts, theater, and music. Deborah’s exceptional treatment of traditional African dance and other ethnic dance forms of the African Diaspora has brought about an enhanced appreciation of African-derived work among audiences in the Bay Area. Her choreography has drawn its inspiration from experiences and circumstances that have affected life in America and around the world in powerful ways. Deborah brings to the stage both conceptual material and a point of view that are rarely witnessed in mainstream America, taking the experience of Africans and African -Americans to a new frontier by blending contemporary influences with the deep and vital traditions of the past.