In the summer of 2019, ArtServe, a Fort Lauderdale based non-profit organization that fosters and promotes artistic growth in South Florida, unveiled its new vision for artistic diversity, community advancement and creative experimentation with the launch of “HOME: An Artistic Celebration of Community”.
‘HOME’ explored metaphors of habitat and the related idea of belonging; the multi-disciplinary exhibition included the unveiling of ArtServe’s 30th Anniversary artistic season, a gallery display by local visual artists and a performance art piece featuring Isanusi Garcia Rodriguez, a former former leading dancer with Miami City Ballet and member of the Cuban National Ballet and his mother, Perla, a renowned former ballet dancer from Cuba.
Isanusi was hit by a brain aneurysm in 2012 that nearly killed him. The stroke left him speechless and paralyzed on his right side, with little ability to walk or talk, much less dance. His discipline from a lifetime of dance training helped him persist with tedious physical and speech therapy despite frequent frustration and physical pain. Isanusi was forced to reinvent himself, subsequently discovering a new joy and purpose in life through a celebration of his Cuban heritage and transcendence of his physical limitations.
My contribution to ‘HOME’ was a series of photographs that documented the rehearsal sessions with (mainly) Isanusi, his mother Perla, and spoken word artist Frankie Red. ArtServe’s Dario J. Moore, a Broward-based director and choreographer, was tasked with bringing the concept of ‘home’ to life.
Over the course of several weeks, I attended the rehearsal sessions at ArtServe with my full-frame Pentax K-1 and a few good lenses, trying to keep out of the way and focus on the dynamics of the sessions – especially the interactions between these fiercely passionate creative artists. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a photographer.
The photographs were displayed at the VIP Preview Night this past August 22nd and the exhibit was on display through September 27 in the ArtServe Gallery. Special thanks to ArtServe Executive Director Craig W. Johnson, ArtServe Marketing manager Ed King and ArtServe Curator Sophie Bonet for allowing me to be a part of this very special exhibition.
Not sure why I’ve waited this long to post the photographs considering how proud I am of them. So here is Part I of a five-part series. This first set of photographs documents the initial brainstorming session at ArtServe and the very first rehearsal. Hope you enjoy them…
From L-R: Isanusi Garcia Rodriguez, Director/Choreographer Dario J. Moore, Isanusi’s wife Christie (who was expecting their first child) and Perla Rodriguez, Isanusi’s mother
Ghenete “G” Wright Muir (center), founder of “Thou Art Woman”, a LGBTQ events organization
Visual artist Anna Goraczko, discusses ideas with choreographer Dario G. Moore
Spoken word artist Frankie Red shares ideas as Perla looks on…
South Florida documentary filmmakers JaJuan X (camera) and Emmanuel George (sound) filmed the principal meeting session
When the creative brainstorming session was over, a dance routine to music and a spoken word segment were agreed upon but now the real work had to be put in. The first rehearsal was scheduled for the following week, let’s get to it…
The very first rehearsal, which was held at ArtServe, consisted of only Isanusi, his mother Perla and choreographer Dario Moore. The focus was getting the dancers on the same page as the music and the spoken word aspect of the performance (written by Frankie Red).
As a photographer, my focus was allowing the performers their proper space while not “boxing” them into tight shots in my compositions but allowing the space of the room to play a role in my images.
Photographs taken with the full-frame Pentax K-1 using the Pentax-D FA 24-70mm f/2.8, PENTAX-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited, and PENTAX-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited lenses. No flash was used.