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.  

8/24/20 O&A NYC DANCE… AND MORE: Peace One Love- Bringing Brooklyn Together

By Walter Rutledge

Dance has always been a catalyst for change. In 1936 Martha Graham created her masterwork Chronicles as a weapon against the rising menace of fascism in Germany. In 1959 Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Round My Shoulder evoked the hopelessness and inequality of Black men on a southern prison chain gang. On Saturday August 29 Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn (also known as Creative Outlet or just C.O.) will also use the power of dance to heal a community with Peace One Love, an afternoon of the arts celebrating the spirit of the now internationally recognized Black Lives Matter movement.   Continue reading

8/24/20 O&A NYC HOLLYWOOD MONDAY: In the Heat of the Night- Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger

Sidney Poitier, in one of his most-celebrated roles, appears as Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia homicide detective who, while visiting a small Mississippi town, will find himself falsely arrested for a murder and then, in a strained collaboration with the town’s sheriff (Rod Steiger), stays on to help solve the murder. Continue reading

8/23/20 O&A NYC LOCKDOWN LEARNING: A History Of Oshun

Oshun is commonly called the River Orisha, or goddess, in the Yoruba religion and is typically associated with water, purity, fertility, love, and sensuality. Continue reading

8/21/20 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE FRIDAY: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Shelter

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Shelter is a passionate statement about the physical and emotional deprivation of homeless people.  Continue reading

8/21/20 LOCKDOWN LEARNING: The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X

Presented entirely through speeches, newscasts, and rarely seen archival footage, The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X tells the story of the man who, by any means necessary, willingly put his life at risk to bring change and equality to black America. Continue reading

8/17/20 O&A NYC HOLLYWOOD MONDAY: Good Hair (A Film By Chris Rock)

Chris Rock visits beauty salons and hairstyling battles, scientific laboratories and Indian temples to explore the way hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of the black community in this exposé of comic proportions that only he could pull off. A raucous adventure prompted by Rock’s daughter approaching him and asking, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” Continue reading

8/11/20 O&A NYC INSPIRATIONAL TUESDAY: Barbershop Stories with Jon Batiste and Congressman John Lewis

Jon Batiste chats with Congressman John Lewis about civil rights comic book March while getting a haircut from his barber Chad.
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8/4/20 O&A NYC INSPIRATIONAL TUESDAY: The Last Words of Rep. John Lewis Read by Morgan Freeman (The Last Word-MSNBC)

In a special Last Word, Morgan Freeman reads the words of John Lewis’ final essay, which he requested be published in the New York Times on the day of his funeral: “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation.” Aired on 7/30/2020. Continue reading