FuturPointe Dance co-founder, president and choreographer N’Jelle Gage is an international dancer and educator that has worked extensively throughout the United States, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Although the directors of FuturPointe Dance run the company as a collaborative team, in addition to dancing and setting work on the company - Gage is specifically responsible for its administrative leadership.
N’Jelle Gage-Thorne also teaches master classes in Caribbean contemporary dance techniques (Tecnica Cubana, L’Antech ™, Reggae ballet, Jamaican urban jazz) at college residencies, festivals, the Draper Center for Dance Education in New York State, and studios across the country.
In 2001, she directed and choreographed for Caribbean Performing Arts Ensemble in Florida and gained expertise from her work in music video production and ad campaigns with renowned international artists including Sean Paul, Mutabaruka, Damian Marley and Third World. She also worked as a cultural consultant for film in the United Kingdom.
Gage-Thorne’s training began in classical ballet where she was the protégé of Norma Spence and performed as a soloist with Jamaica’s first amateur ballet company. During her early teens, she studied with acclaimed Polish ballerina Nina Novak at Academia Ballet Clasico in Caracas, Venezuela. She also studied with in Jamaica with Tatjana Sedunova, the artistic director of the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theater.
In 1991, N’Jelle was introduced to the work of Dr. L’Antoinette Stines and at 15 years old she became a professional dancer with Stines’ Avant garde modern dance company; performing in 16 international cities as a dancer with L’Acadco.
Her studies continued with the renowned Cuban ballet and contemporary dance faculty at Instituto Superior/Escuela Nacional de Artes in Havana where she studied modern technique and folklore/Orisha dance. She concluded her studies in Havana, Cuba with an internship with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba in 2000 and graduated with a teaching and performance degree.
Guy Thorne is the co-founder, artistic director, choreographer and dancer at FuturPointe Dance. As artistic director, he has primary responsibility for the development and execution of the company’s artistic vision. Thorne’s current choreographic work explores the confluence of folklore as well as popular and contemporary dance forms infused with his short film and multi-media creations.
Mr. Thorne recently collaborated with 2013 McArthur Genius Award recipient Carrie Mae Weems on A Story Within A Story, which is a multi-media performance about social identity and visual imagery - with video by Weems, music by Gregory Wanamaker, choreography by Guy Thorne, and additional direction from Kimberley Bouchard. A Story Within a Story was presented at the Lougheed Festival of the Arts at SUNY-Potsdam.
Thorne also teaches for FuturPointe Dance educational programs as well as in master classes and residencies at colleges/universities and for youth in k-12 school outreach programs. Thorne was on the dance faculty at SUNY – Potsdam where he
taught ballet, modern dance, and Caribbean urban and folkloric dance. In 2012, he was a Jubilation Foundation fellow. Guy used his Jubilation grant to introduce Rochester area children (ages 5 to 13) to Jonkanoo, a West African and Caribbean performing art that combines costume-making, singing, dancing and drumming.
Thorne has over 15 years of professional experience and has toured extensively and taught master classes throughout the world including in Italy, Germany, Hawaii, France, the United Kingdom and Austria. He received critical acclaim on several occasions from critics in the New York Times and from other major publications. Thorne has danced at world-class venues such as the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob’s Pillow, Joyce Theater, and The Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, among others. Dance Theatre Production from the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. He moved to the United States as a scholarship student at Dance Theater of Harlem in New York City before becoming a principal dancer with Garth Fagan Dance for 7 years. Thorne holds a BFA in Dance from SUNY-Brockport.
Heather Roffe, MFA
Heather Roffe is co-director, dancer and choreographer at FuturPointe Dance. Roffe’s choreography has been presented in venues across the country, and has been commissioned by professional companies and dance programs throughout the United States.
Roffe also teaches for FuturPointe Dance educational programs. Since 2012, she has been an assistant professor of theatre in dance at Nazareth College. In the past, she taught dance as faculty at Wells College, The College at Brockport, SUNY-Potsdam, Hobart and William Smith College, and St. John Fisher College.
Heather Roffe performed nationally and internationally with the Garth Fagan Dance Company at major venues such as the Joyce Theater in New York City. She also performed at Jacob’s Pillow, the International Dance Festival, and the American Dance Guild Festival as well as with the Bill Evans Dance Company, Assemblage Dance Company, and Burnidge-Clark Dance.
In 2008, Roffe received a master’s degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from SUNY- Brockport
Melinda Phillips is a founding dancer and teaching artist at FuturPointe Dance. Phillips focus is modern dance, West African, tap, Hispanic dance, and Afro house. Aside from her work with FuturPointe, Melinda currently teaches and performs throughout Rochester City Schools District and is an instructor at the Garth Fagan Dance School.
She has performed as a member of Voices Dance Ensemble, Sankofa African Dance Ensemble and Akoma Ntoaso Dance.
Raised in Rochester, New York, Phillips attended the School of the Arts High School majoring in Dance and Drama. She graduated from SUNY Brockport with a BA in Dance.
Liam J. Knighten
Liam J. Knighten is a founding dancer and teaching artist at FuturPointe Dance. In 2008, Knighten toured to Germany with Garth Fagan Dance. Upon his return to the United States, he trained under Angel Ninja-Diamany in the ballroom scene, learning the regal nature of Old Way Voguing. He has also worked with Clark Academy of Performing Arts.
Through his work with FuturPointe and as a public figure in the LGBTQ sphere, Liam strives to elevate the artistic awareness of youth and the young adult populations in the area. As an active member of the LGBTQ community in Western New York, Liam held the titles of Mr. Gay Pride Rochester in 2011 and Mr. Gay Western New York Newcomer in 2011-2012.
Liam Knighten is a native of New Orleans where he studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He graduated at the top of his class with a pre-professional degree in Theatre Arts and a concentration in Musical Theatre.
FuturPointe Dance apprentice Kathryn Bowering is a performance artist based in Rochester, NY. Before joining FuturPointe Dance in September 2012, she performed throughout her 4 years in undergraduate studies with BIODANCE. Bowering has been a choreographer and performer in numerous shows including Koshare Dance Collective, Hobart and William Smith College Faculty Dance Concert and Senior Dance Concert/Symposium. She also performed at the American College Dance Festival.
Kathryn currently attends graduate school at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education.
Bowering began her professional dance training at a young age and received a BA in dance from Hobart and William Smith College, where she graduated with honors in 2011. Her dance training also included intensives with Amy Marshall Dance Company, Taylor 2, and TAKE Dance in New York City.
FuturPointe Dance apprentice Brittany Lang hails from Rochester, New York. Before joining the company as a dancer in November 2012, she performed with Kista Tucker Dance Company and BIODANCE. Her focus has been in Modern dance and Ballet.
Lang graduated from SUNY-Brockport with a BA in Dance and Photography in 2010. During her three years at Brockport, Brittany danced in two MFA thesis works as well as in other student and faculty choreographed pieces. She trained with Ballet Magnificat! In Jackson, Mississippi as well as with Jon Lehrer in Buffalo, New York.
FuturPointe Dance apprentice Niema Atkins joined the company as a dancer in 2011. Prior to that she had been a stage manager/production assistant with FuturPointe. Aside from her apprenticeship with the company, Atkins also works as an educator and teaching artist in Rochester, New York.
After graduating from SUNY-Brockport, where Niema performed with Sankofa African Drum and Dance Ensemble, she co-founded her own company BA BES Dance. She also danced with Voices Dance Collective.
Niema Atkins attended Talent Unlimited High School in New York City, majoring in Dance under Mary Barnett and studied traditional West African, dance in Ghana with Marie Brooks' Pan Caribbean Dancers.