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Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet commemorates Juneteenth

Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. Photo by Hakim Mutlaq.
Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. Photo by Hakim Mutlaq.

Brooklyn Choreographer Jamel Gaines and his dance theater company, Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet (JGCO), will mark Juneteenth 2023 with a program commemorating defining events in African American history and the fight for equal rights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on June 18, at 2pm. The multimedia production will include dance, theater, music, spoken word, film, photography and costuming. Tickets are $30 and are available here.

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States, and is considered the longest-running African American holiday; it became a Federal holiday on June 17, 2021. The JGCO program will feature Jamel Gaines’s Thank You, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the August 1963 civil rights March on Washington; and Four Little Girls, which recognizes the 60th anniversary of the tragic Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that occurred within the month of the March. Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin is featured as Spoken Word Artist in the latter work. The program will also feature Mothers of War by Christopher Huggins, a former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, first performed by Creative Outlet in 2022.

“I feel it’s my duty as an artist to use the performing arts as a vessel for social activism,” said Gaines. “I use current events to shape my artistry – not only for entertainment purposes but for storytelling that can educate and bring social consciousness around everyday events that shape one’s outlook on life. Through music, dance, multimedia and using the stage as a platform, I’m able to construct works that speak to the people – especially historical events and holidays such as Juneteenth.”

Gaines continued, “Juneteenth is a celebration of independence. Just as America celebrates its independence from the British on July 4th, Americans now celebrate African American independence from white slave owners. My Company is commemorating this Juneteenth by telling stories and vignettes of our history, showing that even though African American slaves were finally free, their struggle was far from over. By having cultural, social pieces via art and culture that tell African American stories, we keep these seminal stories from being lost.”

Additional choreographers are to be announced, and musical guests will include the Abouba Abu Canara Drumming Ensemble. JGCO dancers are Robert Hooks, Victor Reddick, Ciera Thorne, Kate Griffler, Valeriane Louisy, Rose Barbanton, Lia Lewis, Rayan Lecurieux-Durival, Tevin Johnson, Marvin Drummond, Toni Owens, Amina Konaté, Kazgareth Gayle and Dehsir Hausif, and the Rehearsal Director/Coach is Shirley Black Brown Coward. Costumes are by Hopie Lynn Burrows and lighting by Gregory L. Dratva. 

JGCO is a non-profit organization whose mission is to use the artistic expression of dance and other integrated art forms to uplift communities through education, performance and cultural programming. The soul of its work is rooted in social justice and spiritually connecting to one another through the arts.

For more information, visit www.creativeoutlet.org.

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