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Jamaica Performing Arts Center

Mar 17, 2013 at 12:15 am by mikewood

jamaica performing arts center

Jamaica & The Performing Arts

Dance Out Loud Receives Thunderous Applause

March 16, 2013 / Jamaica NY / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Dance Out Loud benefit for the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. It was held at the renovated First Dutch Reformed Church, which is now the 400 seat Jamaica Performing Arts Center. The First Dutch Reformed Church was built in 1858, and made a landmark in the mid 1970’s after a community effort saved it from being demolished in 1975. After twenty years of limbo and renovations, the building was reopened as the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in 2009. But I digress.

Tonight we would watch some of the best dance companies in the NYC metro area perform a variety of original works, a pleasure that is difficult to find anywhere – even in Manhattan.

Click here to read the rest of our report on the Dance Out Loud benefit dance performances at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, including a photo slide show of the performances.

Jamaica & The Performing Arts

Dance Out Loud Receives Thunderous Applause

March 16, 2013 / Jamaica NY / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. Continued. I arrived just following the opening remarks, but in time to see the first dance performance. The Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Theatre performed a new work entitled Revolution.

I found a place up in the balcony section of the theater, but unfortunately it was for standing room only. Nonetheless, I couldn’t’ resist as the beauty and symmetry of the choreographed pieces captivated me within minutes of my arrival.

Jamel Gains Creative Outlet Dance Theatre – Revolution

Jamel Gaines Creative Dance Outlet. The music was a mix of rock and a native beat, to which the dancers moved to in a joyous celebration. They were well synchronized in their movements, which provided a symmetrical pattern visible from the balcony, but this pattern was broken by athletic leaps into the air, bursting through the gravitational barriers that hold the rest of us tightly to the ground. But the dancers eventually joined us back on earth, landing deftly and quietly back on the dance floor.

I spoke to Jamel Gaines after the performance and he told me that the intention of this piece was to ‘break out’ out of the chains that bind us and ‘break through’ the invisible web that holds us down. As he told me this I was thinking how well the dancers had expressed his intentions.

The Jamel Gains Creative Outlet Dance Theatre Company is about 18 years old [1995] and had been founded by Jamel who is originally from the Jamaica section of Queens. The company is home to about a dozen dancers, but this piece was performed by the junior company, which is comprised of 18 dancers. They perform in a variety of venues ranging from Broadway shows, to Television programs to film. And he told me that the dancers generally live in the NYC metro area.

Jamel’s work includes a variety of influences from classical jazz, to ballet and tap; and he also cited Broadway shows and songstress Rihanna. He told me that Corey Jon is the choreographer of the Revolution piece and that it is about breaking out of the boxes and chains that encumber us.

Dance Entropy – Thread

I had had the pleasure of watching the performance of Thread by Dance Entropy only a couple of weeks ago at the 15th Anniversary celebration at Green Space. I wrote a review of it, complete with photos, which you can view by clicking this link.


Yoo & Dancers – Leigh Solo

Solo piece, ballet style. Thrilling, exciting movements. Graceful and form.


Vissi Dance Theatre – Census

The music here was of great interest. It was jazzy, but there was a voice over talking about what’s been proven recently via genetics, which is that all mankind came out of Africa.

The voiceover went on to talk about Afro European, and Afro Asian, since everyone is from Africa. Not only black, but white, red, yellow and every color in between is technically an African American.

It continued in a sort of playful, yet serious, discussion of what it means to have an African heritage. It talks about loving America and loving being black. The dancers danced to this with energetic, swirling motions, in a beautifully choreographed movements.


Intermission at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center


Vissi Dance Theatre – Busting Out

Red dresses, dancing to female vocals. Fun, holding formation, writhing and radiating.

Synthesis Dance Project – Broken Light

Fun, jazzy rhythmic movements.

Neville Dance Theater – Bodies (section 1 & 2) Hemispheres & Nerve (premiere)

1st piece jazzy.
The two dance pieces entitled Bodies was an interesting voyage through the brain and central nervous system through dance. A large visual of the two lobes of the brain was shown in the background, while two dancers, representing the lobes, began their dance, like the lobes of our brains do every second of every day at a speed we can scarcely imagine. Now, mind you I wouldn’t even think of this, were it not for the dance performance I just saw earlier this evening.

The Hemispheres piece was followed by Nerve, which is about the nervous system, which of course runs through the brain. That’s how the performance starts, keying off the first segment. The coloring of the first segment was done in a brownish / bloodish color, while the second piece, Nerve, was done in blue – perhaps like the blue of blood.

2nd piece – first the pulse / body sounds – then jazzy.
The four dancers, with dark short cut hair, outfits that resembled modern one piece bathing suits, reminded me of the dance video included in one of the James Bond movies. It was a pleasure to watch as they moved to the music in a very pleasurable syncopated rhythm.

I spoke to Brenda R. Neville just prior to the performance. It was the premiere of the second piece and I could tell she was excited about it. After seeing it myself, I could see why. The Neville Dance Theater Company was formed in 2006 and consists of about a dozen dancers. Six performed in the show tonight. The Neville Dance Theater Company is located in Fort Greene in Brooklyn.

Harambee Dance – Twogetha A Dance Of Seduction

The Twogetha performance was a classical Dance of Seduction, as its name implies. In the performance a man and woman come together in a natural attraction that brings pleasure that they cannot deny. The music consists of a mix of African heritage drums including the djenbe [left - pronounced jim bees], the djun and the songba [far right], as well as the snare drum [center].

The music and dance performance was, to me, a mix of ancient tribal rhythms blended with modern jazz – similar in kind to what some of Bartok’s early work did with Hungarian music set to what was at the time modern classical. And the dance performance, in a similar fashion, was a blend of ancient tribal and modern dance. The costumes seemed to follow suit as the dancers wore dresses that could be taken for Caribbean skirts, while the musicians wore something that one might find at a 70’s jazz jam session.

The performance included a classical jazz tradition, wherein each of the drummers took center stage and played some very jazzy stuff. During some of these the dancers were backstage.

The Harambee Dance Company is located in the Bronx, but they do a lot of their performing in Harlem. They have a regular gig every Friday night at the Kennedy Center, whereby the group plays and performs in classes at the center.

The Harambee Dance Company was formed in 1993 in South Carolina by a husband wife team – Frank and Sandella Malloy. They moved up not too long after the company was formed, and the group now consists of 25 people, of which five musicians and 8 dancers performed this evening. Frank Malloy is one of the drummers [center], Sandella is the choreographer and one of the dancers [white dress], and Frank Malloy Jr. is the musical composer and also one of the drummers [center right]

Jamaica Performing Arts Center & JCAL

The Jamaica Performing Arts Center is a classical performance space for cultural events.

Jamaica Center For Arts & Learning

After the show I spoke with Carl Fields Jr., the Interim Executive Director of JCAL. In some manner the event was also a fond farewell and tribute to Anita Romero-Segarra, the outgoing JCAL Executive Director for the past 18 years. She’s leaving us for Brooklyn, while others are leaving Brooklyn for here. During the intermission, as mentioned above, they did a video farewell.

Like all around the U.S. funding is always needed for the younger and smaller arts organizations in Queens. About 40% of funding comes from private sources such as folks within the community and private trusts. About 60% of that comes from the NYC Cultural Department of Cultural Affairs and, as we all know, funding continues to become harder and harder to get. Hence efforts are underway to ...

Links to Come To Fashion in Jamaica & also York College Performing Arts Center.

Photos of the Rent at the York College Performing Arts Center

Click here to view photos of Dance Out Loud at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in Jamaica Queens NY, or you can view the photos below at your own pace by clicking on the arrows.


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