MEET THE STAFF
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.
Director of Operations
Norva Alleyne holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications with a minor in Psychology, and a Master's Degree in Arts in Media,Culture and Communication from New York University. In New York City, Norva has worked as a Case Worker with Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers and Chemical Abusers Mentally Ill individuals. She is the CEO and owner of En-Norvation Business Solutions, and JMari Beauty Lounge. Ms. Alleyne is an ardent volunteer and advocate for the homeless. She has been working with Creative Outlet as a Board Member and Director of Operations for the past fifteen years.
Cultural Arts Program Coordinator
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.
Marketing / Graphics
Shandale Rickets is a graphic designer, web designer, and digital marketer with Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. Shandale is from from the Bronx and is studying at the New York City College of Technology for Communications Design. She is also a visual artist with a focus on illustration. Her interest in Graphic Design started from her daily walks in NYC and observing the amazing visuals that city life offers.
Hopie Lyn Burrows
Hopie Lyn Burrows is an extraordinary Costumes designer whose work includes Dance, Theatre, Opera, Film, Home Decorating and Television.
She has created classical character unique, One of a kind creations for professionals, NYC Schools, Professional/community schools, children, weddings, churches, proms, various special occasions.
Burrows work successfully designs takes the storytelling, characters, historical facts, and translate them through emotional artistic lens.
Burrows has created costume design throughout the New York tri-state area nationally and internationally, Some of the groups that she’s design costumes are Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, Forces of Nature, Purelements, MAAFA , Melissa Vaugh, Nathan Trice, Ifetayo cultural arts Center, mind builders performing arts Center, deeply rooted Dance Theater of Chicago, Various universities, Stars of New York Dance, to name a few. Burrows has shared her designs in Productions across the United States, Europe, and abroad, such as New York City, Clinton Maryland, Seattle Washington, Atlanta Georgia, London, Italy, Germany, Trinidad, Guadalupe, and Jamaica. Burrows has been commissioned by many artistic Directors and prominent festivals throughout the world such as Brooklyn New York’s Dance Africa, New York City Apollo Theater, Seattle Washington’s Dance This, Clinton Maryland’s Maafa, Washington DC Kennedy Center and Italy’s Spoleto festival.
Burrows is a sought after master costume designer and wardrobe extraordinaire. She began her work at a very early age her one-of-a-kind pieces are unique what style colors textures structural design and unique character Burrows work stands out above the rest. She maintains a active freelance design career.
Percussionist and Composer Rasaan 'Talu' Green's performances include ones with Fela! on Broadway, the Brooklyn Nets, Soutsatzka the Musical, and MAZE, along with band collaborations with Ms. Patti Labelle, Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Aloe Blacc, and Estelle. Green has performed globally in Africa, North America, Australia & New Zealand, and Europe. He is a resident musician with Resura Arkestra and provides musical arrangements for dance companies and master workshops throughout New York City. He holds a BFA in music from Long Island University.
Grant Research and Development
Zoë Cleland, a dancer from the age of 3, started her career in Production and Costuming for film and tv and ended up with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry fulfilling various roles behind the scenes . Specialising in Pointe Shoe Fittings and Special Make Up shoes she enjoyed costuming for professional companies and clients all around the world when she represented and worked closely with Capezio, Grishko, and Freed of London. Also during 2010’s, she was co-founder and co-curator of the Reverb Dance Festival. Previous work includes Office Manager for Westside Academy of Dance, Store Manager for both Grishko in NYC and The Dance Store in Los Angeles. Zoe also received a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley.
Shaheen Kothari joined Creative Outlet in 2022 as Company Manager, and brings with her over 15 years of work experience within the arts and the hospitality industry. Prior to relocating to New York in 2018, Shaheen lived in Hong Kong with her family. While in Hong Kong, Shaheen worked at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, in the capacity of Program Manager, and managed and executed a myriad of visual and cultural art events during her tenure. One of the most exciting parts of her role was working and collaborating with talented individuals passionate about their art. Shaheen holds an M.A. in Art Business from Christie’s Education, NY, and a B.A. in Hospitality Management from Les Roches, Switzerland & Kendall College, Chicago. Shaheen is a strong supporter of the arts and is a board member of the South Asian Womxn’s Creative Collective.