The University of Rochester’s English Department has named N’jelle Gage and Guy Thorne of FuturPointe Dance the recipients of the 2014 Lillian Fairchild Memorial Award, university officials stated.
According to officials, the award has been given annually to a local visual artist, writer, choreographer, or composer for his or her commitment to the arts in the Rochester area.
Rosemary Kegl, chair of the English department, and member of the Fairchild Award committee, said the selection committee chose Gage and Thorne for their recent portfolio of innovative and collaborative projects, including “Psychopomp & Pageantry – Dance. Ritual. Magic,” which premiered at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival; “Riot- A Performance/Installation,” a piece that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Rochester race riots; and their work with Rochester area schools.
In addition, Gage and Thorne said they co-founded FuturPoint Dance in 2009, as a way to promote cultural diversity and awareness in dance through community outreach, performances, and artistic residencies.
The two said the contemporary dance company’s eclectic work combines Caribbean dance forms, ballet, and Latin vocabulary.
“We use influences from Africa, Europe, Asia and even pre-Columbian America that are in touch with contemporary and urban culture,” said Thorne, who has a bachelor of fine arts in dance from SUNY Brockport. “By breaking the rules of dance, we are able to build our skills and find meaningful work in this medium.”
The Rochester-based dance company has most recently performed at the Let’s Dance International Festival in Leicester, United Kingdom, and the Santa Cruz Fringe Festival in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Locally, their work has been featured at the Rochester Fringe Festival, and they have worked with Young Audiences of Rochester, a non-profit arts education organization, to stage multiple interactive performances in the Rochester City School District.
University of Rochester professor Herman Fairchild established the award in 1924, in memory of his daughter, a designer who died of tuberculosis at the age of 32.
Previously, the university has awarded visual artists, composers, choreographers and writers such as modern dance choreographer Garth Fagan, sculptor Albert Paley, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Anthony Hecht.
“I love the spirit of this award, and it does an excellent job of encouraging burgeoning artists,” said Gage, who graduated from the University of Arts in Cuba with a master’s degree in Cuban modern dance techniques. “This year, we’d like to use our dance to help encourage social wellness and interactions, and gain a newer and more diverse audience.”
Visit http://www.futurpointe.org/ for additional information regarding Gage and Thorne’s work.