8/28/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Creative Outlet Offers Free Outdoor Classes

By Walter Rutledge

The bright late morning sun was still drying the dew off the grass, but Fort Green Park was already bustling with energy. As I climbed the white marble stairs the sound of music greeted me halfway up. Patiently waiting at the base of the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument was Jamel Gaines, a tall man sporting a retro curly “fro”.

Soon the large plaza in front of the monument begin to fill with dancers of all ages, shapes and sizes. Gaines, the founder of Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, has spent the more than 25 years building and cultivating the performing arts in Brooklyn. Long before Starbucks, trendy bars and little ugly dogs found Brooklyn’s urban landscape; Gaines had established an artistic foothold in the Fort Green section at 138 S Oxford Street.

If you have ever visited the Creative Outlet school, it has a feeling of a community/village. Parents monitor classes and assist with moving younger students between classrooms, there is a lunch concession that offers affordable hot meals and healthy snacks to the participants and family members. The focused classes resembled the most disciplined arts academy; the biggest difference of was the amount of melanin.

The pandemic put an end to the communal learning approach, and the use of traditional performing venues. Creative Outlet was forced to close its studios, but not suspend activities. Staying true to form Gaines began teaching free classes outdoors at Fort Green Park three days a week.

 
Creative Outlet Free Dance Class

On Thursday and Friday at 6pm and on Saturday at 11am Creative Outlet offers free classes dubbed as, “Culturally Healing and Movement Classes”. There are classes for all ages including a fun jazz-based movement class for children on Saturday morning. One of the most reassuring elements about these classes is that Gaines has brought Creative Outlet’s feeling of community with him. The first outdoor class had only six attendees; now there are over forty artists of all ages.

In addition to dance classes the Creative Outlet Queens, an interdisciplinary and multi-generational performing ensemble that also rehearses at Fort Green Park. The “Queens” will perform at Peace One Love a Black Lives Matter celebration on Saturday August 29th from 2-5pm at the Black Lives Matter Mural at Restoration Plaza (Fulton Street between New York Ave. and Brooklyn Ave). Although this is an outdoor event please practice social distancing whenever possible and please wear a mask.  

8/7/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Bob Fosse Documentary

Bob Fosse stunned the musical theatre world when he went from dance darling to world class choreographer and director. Continue reading

7/31/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Leo Holder discusses Dougla- Bonus 1977 DTH Performance of Dougla

Leo Holder, son of the choreographer Geoffrey Holder, and Dance Theatre of Harlem Artistic Director Virginia Johnson discuss the origins of Dougla. This is followed by a special presentation of Dougla from a 1977 PBS Broadcast.

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6/26/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: A Hymn for Alvin Ailey- A Documentary Film

The documentary film A Hymn for Alvin Ailey goes behind the scenes of Judith Jamison’s Hymn and gives you a look at Alvin Ailey’s life from the perspective of those who knew him best. Continue reading

6/18/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Donald Byrd’s Greenwood- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Greenwood, Donald Byrd‘s fifth Ailey commission draws on the Company’s theatrical roots and legacy of addressing social injustice. The work’s title references a 1921 tragedy that happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s segregated Greenwood District. At the time, it was one of the country’s most affluent African American communities, known as Black Wall Street.
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6/12/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Creole Giselle (DTH On Demand)

When the ballet Giselle was created in 1841, it was not imagined to be performed by men and women of color, Black men and women. In 1984, Dance Theatre of Harlem Co-Founder Arthur Mitchell changed that. The acclaimed DTH production of this classic, Creole Giselle, was re-conceived by Arthur Mitchell and staged by Frederic Franklin, based on the original by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot

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5/22/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: A Conversation With Calvin Royal III- The Best Is Yet To Come

By Walter Rutledge

 

On an unseasonably cold Sunday April morning Calvin Royal III met my at the East Harlem storefront dance studio of Robin William’s Uptown Dance Academy. The interview was in conjunction with his first upcoming New York City season as a soloist with American Ballet Theater (ABT). This also marked the first time in over two decades a black man ascended to the rank of soloist with ABT. Continue reading

5/15/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Alvin Ailey’s For ‘Bird’ – With Love (1984)- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

A tribute to the great jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker, For ‘Bird’ – With Love brings the audience back to the relaxed atmosphere of an after-hours jam session at a local jazz club. Continue reading

(Repost) 5/8/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: The A- Z of Dance

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A-Z of Dance shows you how to set hearts alight and clubs on fire. Shot on the streets and rooftops of sunny LA, float like an Arabesque, spin like a B-Boy, wobble like a Chicken Noodle Soup… it’s time to step up! In a very special project for i-D and Diesel, director Jacob Sutton has captured the world’s hottest dancers walking in the air in their Jogg Jeans and cut-offs.

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Lil Buck shows us the way of Memphis Jookin. Super-thighs Nicole the Pole – star of Rihanna’s Pour It Up video – takes us to a whole other level. And fresh from the Rick Owens catwalk, the Soul Step team show us how to dance to Le1f. Continue reading

4/24/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Jose Limon- The Moor’s Pavane

The Moor’s Pavane is a 20-minute ballet based upon the tragedy Othelle by William Shakespeare. The ballet was choreographed by Jose’ Limon in 1949 to music from Henry Purcell’s Abdelazer, The Gordion Knot Untied, and the pavane from Pavane and Chaconne for Strings, arranged by Simon Sadoff.   Continue reading