He is also using Quince to look back at his father and grandfather’s lives. He was alienated from his father, who brought the family to Miami from Cuba in the early 1960s, walked out just before Campos was born in 1967, and reappeared 13 years later, at one point stealing Campos’ Social Security number. On the other hand, he finds inspiration in the story of his pugnacious, adventurous grandfather, who at 17 left Spain for Cuba, where he became a boxer and accordion player.
“He was a performer, a mover, a risk-taker — that’s where I got it!” Campos says. “He was a real fighter.”
He has been wrestling with these dense, emotion-laden themes for a year, and Quince is still a work in progress. It’s the first show commissioned by the Synapse Performance Project, which was created by choreographer Letty Bassart, artistic programs director at YoungArts, with the aim of bringing Miami dance makers together with collaborators from outside the city.
“The idea is to get people to see Miami as a place where things are made,” says Bassart, who received a $50,000 Knight Challenge grant for Synapse. “To position this as a hub for that creative moment.”
Quince has received plenty of support. Campos worked on it in May during a three-week residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, which will premiere the finished work in January. New York photographer Robert Flynt and videographer and filmmaker David Fishel are working with family photos and other visual material. And dance artist Leslie Neal, whom Campos worked with as a teenager, is serving as director and dramaturge.
“I’ve been helping him find a storyline that we all connect to,” Neal says. “Trying to get him out into that larger realm.”
Campos hopes Quince will help him figure out his own larger story, step by 15-year step. “I’m trying to find peace and be thankful for how lucky I’ve been,” he says. “I’m 45. So I have to do this now.”