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Chicago Dance Student Arayah Lyte Wins National Award

Arayah Lyte Chicago Defender

Photo Credit: Thomas Mohr

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater of Chicago, Illinois congratulates student Arayah Lyte, also a student at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, on receiving a 2022 YoungArts award for her caliber of artistic achievement. Lyte is among 720 of the most accomplished young visual, literary, and performing artists from throughout the country. Selected through the organization’s prestigious competition, YoungArts award winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States, in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative, and professional development support throughout their entire careers. A complete list of the 2022 winners is available online at

Photo Credit: Elliot Lyte

“We are thrilled to announce this year’s YoungArts award winners—an extraordinary group of promising, accomplished young artists—and congratulate each of them on this exciting milestone in their artistic careers,” said Executive Director Jewel Malone. “YoungArts empowers artists to pursue a life in the arts beginning at the critical time when many are faced with decisions about life after high school. We are proud to support these young artists at the beginning of their journeys and look forward to becoming a resource for them at all stages of their careers.”

YoungArts awards are given in three categories: Finalist, Honorable Mention, and Merit. This year, YoungArts award winners will have the opportunity to learn from leading artists such as vocalist La Tanya Hall, visual artists Loni Johnson and Yashua Klos, and award-winning writer Dr. Joan Morgan. YoungArts award winners become eligible for exclusive creative and professional development support including a wide range of fellowships, residencies, and awards; microgrants and financial awards; virtual and in-person presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues and cultural partners nationwide; and access to YoungArts Post, a free, private online platform for YoungArts artists to connect, collaborate, and discover new opportunities.

Arayah Lyte has been named a YoungArts Finalist in Dance. A young dancer and artist from Chicago, she began dancing at age four at the Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts. She is currently a student at the Chicago Academy for the Arts and is a member of the school’s Repertory Company. She is also a member of the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Youth Ensemble in Chicago. Lyte has participated in several summer programs including intensives with Interlochen Arts Academy, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and The Juilliard School. Her training spans across genres, but she found her true love for art through dance in modern and contemporary styles. Her interest in creating art with movement started early on as she learned the beauty of storytelling in dance. Enamored with the marriage of story and motion, dance became transportive for her. Continuing into the collegiate level, Lyte aims to expound on her dance education and love for the art.

Deeply Rooted Artistic Director Nicole Clarke-Springer commented, “Congratulations to Arayah on becoming a recipient of the YoungArts award in dance! Arayah joined Deeply Rooted’s Youth Ensemble in 2018, and it has been wonderful not only witnessing but also contributing to her training and the development of her artistry. It’s definitely been an honor to have a talent such as hers entrusted to Deeply Rooted. We are all so proud!”

YoungArts award winners join a distinguished group of accomplished artists such as Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Amanda Gorman, Judith Hill, Jennifer Koh, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson, and Hunter Schafer.

YoungArts award winners at the Finalist level, including Lyte, are invited to participate in YoungArts Week+ Virtual Performances and Presentations January 29 – February 4, live-streamed at Lyte will perform a solo titled Quimey Neuquen choreographed by Rena Butler during the dance performance on Monday, January 31 at 7 p.m. CST. To register and receive reminders and links for viewing, visit

Finalists are also eligible to be nominated to become U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the highest honors given to high school seniors, bestowed by the President of the United States. As the sole nominating agency, every year YoungArts nominates 60 artists to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. The Commission then selects the 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

The YoungArts competition is open to artists 15–18 years old (or in grades 10–12). For more information about becoming a YoungArts award winner click here.

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For more information about Deeply Rooted, visit