By Walter Rutledge
James “Banks” Davis is a real New York success story. Banks grow up in the urban environment of Queens and Brooklyn and as a teenager found acceptance and recognition as an urban street dancer. A natural athlete Banks quickly excelled in dance and gymnastics. He loved entertaining people often turning a street corner into a stage.
Then on Halloween night 2009, gun fire erupted on a crowded Brooklyn street and Banks was shot in the knee- another innocent victim of a random shooting. His injuries would have been a death knell for anyone pursuing a career in dance. Instead, Banks treated this not as a detour, but the course appointed.
The original diagnosis was amputation; but miraculously sensation returned to his leg and Banks immediately turned his attention toward recovery. Through mediation, prayer, dedication and hard work Banks was able to return to dance. Banks broaden his aesthetic horizons through his association with Jamel Gaines and his dance company
For over 26 years Gaines has used dance to inspire inner city youth to achieve; and often his prodigy has aspired beyond their own expectations. Gaines has the unique gift of working with dancer from many diverse disciplines. And Banks (whose specialty was the L.A. street dance style called Krump) developed his art under Gaines holistic approach to dance.
Banks combines the refined, codified styles of modern and jazz with the raw edginess of Krump. In 2014 Banks stole the hearts of many on social media as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance Season 11. Banks played the role of the angel Gabriel in the English National Opera’s The Gospel According To Mary and toured New Zealand with the Park Avenue Armory’s production FLEXN. In 2019 Banks was featured in the groundbreaking Revelation of Proverbs Reggie “Regg Roc” and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring at The Shed.
Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Behind The Scenes
On June 19 Creative Outlet and Summerstage will present Hanging Tree, an on-line celebration of the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. The virtual presentation will take place on June 19, 7-8pm on Summerstage YouTube. In addition to Banks the production (choreographed, staged and conceived by Gaines) also features vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley, poet Carl Hancock Rux, and musician Talu Green. The performance will be followed by a panel discussion entitled The Importance of Juneteenth’s History & How It Affects Our Community’s Lives Today. The panel will feature RestorationArt Executive Director Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Gaines and Rux.
For more information about Creative Outlet’s programs, classes and upcoming event visit jgcodance.org.