AGE: 38. Lives in Bronzeville. GREW UP IN: East Garfield Park. CLAIMS TO FAME: Jaco is one of Chicago’s most exciting contemporary choreographers and founder of the Move Me Soul Youth Dance Company. FUTURE THINKING: She’s also cofounder of M.U.R.A.L. (Magnifying Urban Realities and Affecting Lives) with her brother, musician Lupe Fiasco. M.U.R.A.L equips youth with tools to tackle topics such as food access, health, violence, and personal values through hip-hop curriculum and empowerment funding. “For me, it’s about leveling up and watering the seeds that my teachers and parents planted in me … taking it to the next generation,” she explains. RIGHTEOUS RESIDENT: Her passions have merged in new project: taking a residency at Rebuild Foundation, a platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation. In the role, Jaco is curating and choreographing three pieces that honor her community history. ROOTS DOWN: Arts and community were part of Jaco’s youth. She learned dance at a young age and her father, a karate teacher, insisted that she master martial arts as well. “A lot of the formalities of arts and martial arts raised us to have morals, values, [and] the ability to dream beyond our circumstances,” she explains. LIFE MANTRA: “In karate we said, ‘Be always ready.’ ” This came in handy when, in 2008, after years of honing her choreography skills, Jaco received an unexpected call from producers looking for someone to teach hip-hop to an actor for the film “Burn After Reading.” “And just like that, I was working downtown with Brad Pitt for three days. We did everything from break dance to the Cupid Shuffle.” FULL CIRCLE: “Being offered the Rebuild residency was like a homecoming. It’s next door to where my father’s karate school and my old dance studio were. The work I’m creating is to resurrect that space and time.” SAVORING SPARE TIME: When Jaco’s not working with Chicago’s youth, she’s spending time with her 6-year-old son. Favorite spots are the lakefront, Woodlawn restaurant (1200 E. 79th) and Some Like It Black Creative Arts Bar (810 E. 43rd).
For info about Rebuild and Jaco’s residency, go to rebuild-foundation.org