MEET THE STAFF

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Jamel Gaines

Founder and Executive Artistic Director

Creative Outlet Founder and Artistic Director, Jamel Gaines has dedicated his life to delivering artistic excellence and stirring, soaring performance to audiences everywhere. Gaines started his training under the guidance Diane and Adrienne Brown and James Grant. He continued on to recieve a full scholarship at Purchase University from Harry Bellafonte. Gaines started his professional career under the mentorship of Kevin Iega Jeff, the founder and artistic director of Jubilation Dance Company! With more than 25 years of teaching and choreography experience, Gaines seeks to inspire, motivate, and nurture dancers and artists.

Kate graduated from SUNY Purchase College with a BFA from the Conservatory of Dance and Certificate in Arts Management. She completed the six month producer's seminar with the Commercial Theater Institute.

Kate is a producer, dancer, teacher and choreographer living in Brooklyn, NY. Kate was previously the director of The REVERBdance Festival, an international and national festival that ran for eleven years. Her own dance theater works and dance films have been shown under her pick up company: 121 Dance Project and have been presented by SUNY Brockport, World Fellowship, SUNY Purchase, Manhattan Theater Club, Red Arm One Gallery, Rover Soho, Dixon Place,  Clemente Soto Valez Cultural Center, Boston University,  Ailey Citigroup Theater, Infinito Gallery, TANK,  The Center At Park West, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Signature Center Theater and The Dairy Center for the Performing Arts.

Kate’s producing credits include: The Awakening of Angel DeLuna, The NYC-MEX Festival de La Ciudad, Heart Expo Japan, and films including:  Indigo Children, Drilling Holes In The Sun, Dying Swan, Camilo Tranquilo,and Chrysalis.

As a dancer, Kate has performed nationally and internationally with choreographers Ayako Kurakake, Shaun Roschman,Stacy Grossfield, Kathlene Dyer, Caitlin Trainor, Ceilia Rowlson-Hall, Ofelia Loret de Mola, John Curtis, Miriam Wolff, Megan Williams, and Martha Williams.

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Kate Griffler

Associate Producer/Assistant to the Executive Artistic Director

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Alisha Zebulon-Sow

Creative Coordinator

Alisha is the Creative Coordinator with Creative Outlet and a full-time graduate student at NYU Steinhardt Dance Education Department. She is also a performing artist and choreographer, having studied classical music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia then earning her BA in Cultural Studies and BFA in Jazz from The New School in NYC. Using her knowledge and talents Alisha inspires young and old to explore and learn about African diasporic music, dance and culture. She has taught a variety of classes to children in New York City public and private schools for the past 15 years. In addition, for the past 5 years she has dedicated herself to teaching and developing dance curriculum in a charter school in Brownsville Brooklyn. 

Yailenne Escobar, Company Manager of Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. She is a Chicago native, currently based in Brooklyn studying at The New School for Urban Studies with a minor in Race & Ethnicity. Yailenne launched her blog named Para Las Mujeres/ For the Women in spring of 2019 and has a podcast series coming out November of 2020. She is a multi-disciplinary artist with a background in dance, music production, choreographing, painting, drawing, and curator.

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Yailenne Escobar

Company Manager

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Melinda Walker

Cultural Arts Program Administrator

Melinda Walker currently works at the Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Program, located in Brooklyn, NY. She is one of the Administrators for the Saturday Cultural Arts Program (CAP). Her love of dance began at the age of 13, when her school cut out our gymnastics program. She joined a school located in Cambria Heights, Queens called Dance Explosion, it was run by her beloved dance teacher Adrienne Brown. This is where she first met Jamel Gaines, we both were going there for dance. The school offered all forms of dance, African, Modern, Tap, Gymnastics, Jazz and Ballet. During her time with Dance Explosion, her love of dance grew, and at the age of 16, she became a dance teacher for the babies ages 3-5, then a choreographer for ages of 7-12.

 

She would later follow in the footsteps of Adrienne and attended Hunter College where she majored in Dance and received a Summer Scholarship. Another dance friend of hers named Donna Maxell were the original founders of Opus dance Company which they created along with one of their previous dance teachers named Buster Grant. Opus was mildly successful until lack of funds cut their success short. Although she no longer dances due to old age and dance injuries, she still loves to watch and help the students wherever possible. Her original love of dance is alive and present when she watches the wonderful students at Creative Outlet’s Saturday (CAP) Program. Jamel Gaines has done a wonderful job of providing the students, not only an outlet but something they can take pride and claim as their own.

Shandale is Arts In Education Coordinator with Creative Outlet. She’s from The Bronx studying at New York City College of Technology for Communications Design. She is a visual artist that has been working with Creative Outlet for about a year doing Graphic and Web Design for the company. Her interest in Graphic Design came from being in the New York City environment and seeing amazing visuals everyday walking around the city. Her job is to bring the creative outlet that JGCO offers to children across the 5 boroughs of New York City.

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Shandale Ricketts

Arts in Education Coordinator

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KG Montes

Development

KG Montes is a student at Yale University majoring in Biochemistry and Theater Studies. For the past year, she has interned with the Creative Outlet as the Assistant to the Executive Artistic Director, working closely with Jamel to develop grant scripts and project budgets. In addition to her work with JGCO, KG is a budding playwright and producer at her university as well as a scientific researcher. She hopes to continue work in the performance arts as a writer in the future.

Our Los Angeles transplant, Andrew, is a third-year studying Journalism and Film Production at The New School - Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts. Andrew joins Creative Outlet as the Social Media and Video Intern. He is enthusiastic about bringing all his film and editing knowledge to the community. He ultimately believes dance is the hidden language of the soul and is what unites humans. Apart from documenting local community voices and reporting on social justice topics as Managing Video Editor at his university’s school paper, The New School Free Press, he enjoys watching films by Spike Lee and Alfonso Cuarón. He hopes to become a documentarian and video journalist.

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Andrew Orellanna

Social Media and Video Intern

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Leresa Gripper

Social Media Intern

Leresa Gripper is the Founder and CEO of Resa Arts In Entertainment: a Management Company. Extensive world traveling while exploring diverse dance forms has given Leresa an appreciation for the arts. She studied Entertainment and Art Management at Drexel University. Her innovative ideas, positive attitude, and work ethic have enhanced various organizations. Through her business division, Resa Does Media Leresa caters to businesses, brands, and organizations servicing their media needs. This includes but is not limited to social media management, content creation, photography, branding, and marketing.