N'jelle Gage-Thorne: Nature is Very Alive Here
By Andrea Louis
A lover of dance, body movement, music, and choreography, has decided to make Dominica's lush green tapestry, charming, melodious people, her theatre to expand her artform while exploring and utilizing the exquisite nature of the country.
N'jelle Gage-Thorne, born and raised in Jamaica, studied dance in her homeland, Cuba, and Venezuela. She subsequently lived in the United States for a few years and did dance there also. While she describes herself as a product of the Caribbean, something about her first visit to Dominica told her the island was a good place to make home.
"I came in September 2020. A very good friend of mine who was visiting her family invited me to come with her. It was perfect timing for my family and me, we felt we needed the time to pivot. What we thought would be a vacation turned into an extended stay and here we are," N'jelle said.
Both N'jelle and her husband work in the performing arts and own a dance company in Rochester, New York, named FuturPointe Dance.
Friendly, welcoming people
Initially, it was the friendly, welcoming, helpful, people who encouraged Gage-Thorne to consider staying in Dominica. To date, she works with two groups of women on a bi-weekly basis.
"We networked, and met a lot of people who were interested in our services. We got in touch with the Cultural Division and DIFA and that is how we dipped our toes in the water in terms of dance and movement on the island," she said.
Then, the enchanting aspects of Dominica's ethereal beauty further convinced the dancer, and her family, that she was making the right move.
"That's why we ended up staying," she said. "Nature is very alive here, it's not bothered with. I still sense a naturalness, a vibrancy. I feel grounded here, I feel how nature can ground a person here."
Having lived in Dominica for just a year and a half, Gage-Thorne is still enamored by the captivating natural features of the country,
"It's a great detox island, a place where you can detox mentally, physically, and emotionally," N'jelle said.
She is here with her husband and two children all of whom are enjoying the benefits of living on the Nature Island of the Caribbean.
"Our children are in school here and they love it, I bring them to the rivers and sea all the time after school. We have settled in nicely here," she said.
N'jelle's professional dance career started at the age of 15 with a Jamaican dance company called L'Acadco. She dedicated herself to the art form over the years, honing her skills in different styles and techniques.
"I toured the Caribbean and the world with L'Acadco. I studied in Venezuela with an acclaimed Polish ballerina. I also studied with the then Jamaica School of Dance. I moved to a school in Cuba and worked with many acclaimed dance faculties there. Flash-forward a few years, my husband and I formed a dance company in Rochester," N'jelle said.
This choreographer and dancer, who is also a movement and dance therapist, life coach, and mobility expert, applauds the work of the Division of Culture, saying it is vital for youth to get involved in the arts as a means of preserving and promoting Dominica's heritage.
"I believe art can lead us to where we want to go and I believe what they are doing at Old Mill speaks to that, especially to children," she advised.
This arts advocate believes the various characteristics of the performing arts can be used to help Dominicans heal from the traumas of COVID-19, Hurricane Maria, and other major events.
"I have expanded my concept of movement and dance into wellness and general health. This is one of the most important times in history where we realize our mental health, our ability to allow ourselves to feel good and give ourselves that kind of care is so important. Everybody is opening up to that. But there is more opening up to do, " she said. "And I am here to facilitate that."