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

6/18/20 O&A NYC EVENTS: Sneak Preview of Hanging Tree- Juneteenth is African American Independence Day

By Walter Rutledge

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This observance should hold the status of an African- American Independence Day. Juneteenth 2020 will take place on Friday; and to commemorate the 155 anniversary of independence Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Company of Brooklyn and NYC Summerstage with present a virtual celebration entitled Hanging Tree. This virtual event will take place on Friday June 19, 7pm on Summerstage YouTube.

The production brought together the talents of dancer James “Banks” Davis, musician Talu Green, vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley, poet Carl Hancock Rux, choreographer/director Jamel Gaines and members of the Creative Outlet family. Mothers and fathers performed with sons and daughters, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, and present and former company members brought love, creative, reverence and community to the steps, plaza and base of the Doric styled Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Green Park. Immediately following the performance there will be a panel discussion lead by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer/choreographer Hope Boykin. 

 O&A NYC attended the filming of the presentation and brings you a sneak preview of Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet’s Hanging Tree.

Preview Hanging Tree: A Juneteenth Celebration

On June 19th, 1865 a regiment of Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. One of Granger’s first order of business was to read to the people of the city a document entitled General Order Number 3. The proclamation began:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Juneteenth honors the memory of all people who have broken the chains of  oppression and dehumanizing servitude. It is celebration of those who have the obtained  freedom, either through the joys of emancipation or the unfortunate inevitability of death. On Friday June 19 we wish you all a joyous Juneteenth and a happy African- American Independence Day.

9/22/19 O&A NYC DANCE- REVIEW: Legacy- Creative Outlet and Deeply Rooted at BAM Fisher

By Walter Rutledge

Legacy, a shared concert between Brooklyn based Jamel Gaine’s Creative Outlet and Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, presented a well curated evening of dance theatre works at BAM Fisher on Friday and Saturday September 13 and 14, 2019. Founding directors Jamel Gaines and Deeply Rooted’s Kevin Jeff (both Queens natives and Bernice Johnson Dance School alums) presented a concert of shared dance philosophies. The evening had a kindred aesthetic; presenting seven works spanning thirty-five years. Continue reading

4/21/17 O&A NYC SHALL WE DANCE: Forces- Jamel Gaines and Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn


Jamel Gaines and Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn (with guest artists) presents dance theatre, which combines elements of theater, spoken word/poetry, moving image and live music. Gaines uses dance to address social and cultural issues. Continue reading

(REPOST) 12/19/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Jeroboam Bozeman Dance Warrior

By Walter Rutledge

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”. Jeroboam Bozeman is living Roosevelt’s observation. At first glance Jeroboam is a quiet, reserved young man with a warm and genuine smile; on stage Bozeman is a dance warrior. This talented 23 years old performer will make his debut with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater during the New York City Center season, which begins on Wednesday, December 4.

Jeroboam Bozeman part one

A native of Brooklyn, New York Jeroboam was one of those fortunate individuals who discovered his “joy of achievement” early in life. He began studying dance at the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center (Junior High School 113) in Brooklyn with Ruth Sistaire. It was Sistaire who soon introduced Jeroboam to Creative Outlet Dance Theater of Brooklyn, a community based dance school and company.

Jeroboam Bozeman part two

Under Artistic Director Jamel Gaines’ guidance Jeroboam got his first real taste of the New York City dance scene. He trained in a nurturing family-like environment with working professionals including former Ailey dancers Shirley Black Brown and Raquelle Chavis. At age 16 he was asked to perform with the company and toured London, England. These experiences with Creative Outlet gave this young artist a chance to see the world, earn income and most importantly build a professional ethos.

Bozeman’s talents were rewarded with full scholarships to attend two of New York City’s most prestigious dance schools, the Joffrey Ballet School and Dance Theatre of Harlem. By age 19 his commitment and hard work paid off once again when he was chosen by choreographer Sarita Allen to performing in the Far East touring company of Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical Aida. These experiences helped shape the aspiring artist, but his career defining moment can when Jeroboam joined Philadanco.

Jeroboam Bozeman part three

The venerable Philadelphia Dance Company known to the general public, as Philadanco was the environment that propelled Bozeman from neophyte to professional. He credits the no nonsense approach of Artistic Director/Founder Joan Myers Brown for his artistic growth. For over 40 years Brown’s strong repertory company has featured choreography by such dance luminaries as Talley Beatty, George Faison, Rennie Harris and Ronald K. Brown; during his three-year association with the company Jeroboam learned to dance beyond the footlights.

A turning point for Bozeman came during the rehearsals of the solo from Faison’s Suite Otis. Former Ailey dancer and current Philadanco Rehearsal Director/coach Debora Chase-Hicks pushed him to find that inner dance warrior. The sessions were a watershed moment for Jeroboam, helping him move his artistry to the next level.

Jeroboam Bozeman part four

Returning to New York in 2012 Bozeman danced with Ailey II under the direction of then newly appointed Artistic Director Troy Powell. Less than a year later he was invited to join the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As Bozeman makes this next career move he retains a humble teachable spirit, unpretentious demeanor and that exuberate smile. We wish this rising dance warrior much continued success.

Originally posted 12/2/13 for Harlem World Magazine

6/24/15 O&A REVIEW: Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn- An Artist Grows In Brooklyn

By Walter Rutledge

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Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn presented a three-day performance series May 15th through 17th at Kumble Performance Center, LIU Downtown Brooklyn Campus. The event entitled, An Artist Grows In Brooklyn, marked the organization’s twentieth anniversary and featured present company members, returning alumnus, faculty and students from the school. The performance consisted of a series of eight vignettes, which encapsulated the company’s past, present and future legacy. Continue reading

5/12/15 O&A Dance: Jamel Gaines – Unsung Hero

By Walter Rutledge

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When you check the resumes of performing artists, so many did not begin their training in large renowned institutions. They usually begin at a smaller local school in their hometown or neighborhood. In these nurturing environments teachers taught more than dance.

Often these unsung heroes wore many pairs of dance shoes. They were chauffeurs, loan officers, guidance counselors, math tutors, disciplinarians, landlords and surrogate parents. They provided free classes, that they called scholarship, without the luxury of corporate sponsorships to offset the expense. But for the most part they provided a safe haven, and a solid foundation; not just in dance but in life.  

Whether it was a converted storefront, a church basement, school gymnasium, or after school program, you couldn’t wait to get there because even after a hundred failed attempts eventually you knew you would the words “Yes that’s it” usually followed “Now do it again”. It was that teacher, that hero, who first saw that spark in your eyes, and helped you turn it into the raging fire in your soul. Every dancer has an Aunt Joan, a Madame Cugjet or Nikita Talin whose dedication, conviction and love helped mold their artistry. And even now their voices and wisdom still resounds from deep within. Jamel Gaines is one of these heroes.

Jamel Gaines and Members of Creative Outlet

For twenty years Gaines has given his time, talent and personal resources to develop young people into performing artists and contributing members of society. His tireless energy and ability to show young people how “To be the best you can be” has not diminished. On any given Saturday Gaines conducts his school at Junior High School 113, 300 Adelphi Street in Brooklyn.

The school is a model of the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child”. Parents volunteers escort children to and from classes. They also operate a lunch concession where children and parent can purchase a hot meal with leaving to building. School alumni teach classes, and the company, Jamel Gaines’ Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, consists of budding talent developed at the school and returning former students who are either between professional gigs or on hiatus.

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On May 15 Jamel Gaines’ Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn will celebrate the 20th anniversary with a three-day season at Kumble Theater at LIU Brooklyn, One University Plaza, Brooklyn. The performance May 15, 16 and 17 will showcase works from the company’s repertoire including the world premiere of Bitter Sweet, set to the music of Roberta Flack, commissioned by 651 ARTS. For more information and tickets call or visit the Kumble box office at (718) 488 – 1624 or online at creativeoutlet.org.

Summerstage Harlem Dance Caravan: Erasing The Boundaries

By Walter Rutledge

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Harlem Dance Caravan: Erasing The Boundaries performances were held on August 15th and 16th at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. This is the second year SummerStage and the Faison Firehouse has collaborated on the outdoor, free to the public performing arts presentation; and it has already become one the most anticipated and well attended events offered in the summer series. This year the eclectic roster of performers included Baoku & The Image Afro-Beat Band, Cecilia Marta Dance Company, George Faison Universal Dance Experience, Jamel Gaines’ Creative Outlet, and Lotus Music & Dance Multicultural Artists. The well curated production lived up to its title offering a diverse and well-paced program with an international flavor. Continue reading

Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center: Dancing the Single Life (part 2)

By Walter Rutledge

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Dancing the Single Life (part 2) concluded the choreographer’s showcase portion of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center three-day New York season at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street. For the second night five choreographers were presented each testing the boundaries of contemporary dance. It was an engaging terpsichorean event defined by cutting edge, innovative and provocative choreography. Continue reading

Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center Series Begins Monday

By Walter Rutledge

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The Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center (THPAC) will present their annual Souls of Our Feet: People of Color Dance Festival June 23, 24, and 25; 7:30pm at the Actors Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. This year the performances will showcase the works of ten choreographers in a unique program of dance solos. The series is aptly entitled Dancing the Single Life. Continue reading