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Art meets tradition: The Arsht Center offers space for quinceañera portraits

Lhasa Posada, 15, poses for her quincenera photos at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Linda Carta
Lhasa Posada, 15, poses for her quinceañera photos at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

For her quinceañera portraits, Lhasa Posada traded in the traditional candy-colored princess dresses for something more her style.

In her photos, Posada poses in a more contemporary outfit.

She wears a black long-sleeved sweater, a white skirt and headband while sitting in the middle of an empty theater of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

She insisted on doing everything herself — curling her hair, doing her makeup and enlisting her mom as a photographer, she said.

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"I kinda marked who I was with my photos — that transition between the before and the now of you as a person, who you're becoming."

The Arsht Center is celebrating its 15-year anniversary by inviting young people like Posada to take their quinceañera portraits for free. As part of the Quince con Arsht program, students can book two free hours to take photos in some of the center's iconic spaces

Posada, who turned 15 years old last August, kept her quinceañera celebrations small and intimate. Skipping the usual fanfare of a party, she and a close group of friends visited a Van Gogh art exhibit.

"I didn't really have the big party with a bunch of people," she said. "I did my own thing and that was very special to me."

She had the freedom to express her creativity, she said.

Posada chose to document the Arsht Center where she performed once on behalf of her school's choir. She said it reflected her interest in the arts, namely painting and drawing.

"It's been a very great experience as someone who has a lot of admiration for the arts and the people who bring them to life," she said.

Jairo Ontiveros, the center's vice president for education and community engagement, said the goal of the event is to help students commemorate the rite of passage, some of which has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the time of COVID, where a lot of that big social gathering can't really take place or isn't able to take place, we want to be able to step in and give that special moment to young people," Ontiveros said.

The Arsht also partnered with the Prom Boutique at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which offers ballgowns and tuxedos, so students in need can arrange an appointment to pick an outfit of their choice.

"People are going to come in with their own unique taste, their own unique look," Ontiveros said. "What I think is beautiful about having it at the Arsht Center is that self-expression that young people exude is so connected to what we do in our business, right? Art."

The center is taking reservations for free quinceañera portraits through April.

Quince con Arsht is just one of more than 10 ongoing programs at the center, which are committed to exposing the Miami-Dade community to the performing arts.

"The Arsht Center was built by this community and it needs to be celebrated and we want it to be celebrated with the community," Ontiveros said.

FILE: Students pose for quinceañera portraits as part of the Adrienne Arsht Center's Quince con rsht program.
The Adrienne Arsht Center
The Adrienne Arsht Center
Students pose for quinceañera portraits as part of the Adrienne Arsht Center's Quince con Arsht program.

Alyssa Ramos is the multimedia producer for Morning Edition for WLRN. She produces regional stories for newscasts and manages digital content on WLRN.
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