images-unplugged_web.jpgWhen I was a college senior, I was a part of a fashion group called Fiji Fashions, Inc., now known as Opulent Image Models, Inc.  I wasn’t their star model (no one was) but I wasn’t half bad. 

Our fierce leader, Johnnie, held us models to a certain standard.  If you weren’t fierce enough, you were handed a Band-Aid in the cafeteria, because you had been cut.  Usually, they started with more than 50 models and ended up with about 24.  We put on the best fashions shows at Barry University with great scenes, on-point poses, and elaborate costumes and make-up.  In other words, we never disappointed our audience members.
When I sat down at the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center at Nova Southeastern University in Davie last Sunday night, I thought I was awaiting a show that would be solely made up of dance.  After the warm-up performance, I realized that Images Unplugged was the same type of group as my own; only, their models have nearly professional skills in dancing.

Images’ mission statement is: “The goal of Images Modeling and Performing Arts Troupe is to give the children of the (Miami-Dade County) community some place to belong, keep them off of the streets, and out of trouble.” 

I won’t sink my claws into this performance too much because I am covering a group of amateur models, dancers and teenagers who have been performing for years, but have not reached the caliber of professional dancers and models, yet.  But, their great skills cannot be ignored.

The backbone of Images is Jabari R. Hughes.  A 1998 graduate of Miami Carol City Senior High School and 2002 graduate of Bethune-Cookman University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, Hughes has been directing these precocious youngsters and others like them for four years. 

When I asked Hughes to say something about the show and his “kids,” he told me to read the mission statement that is mentioned above because he stands by it wholeheartedly. 

But Hughes’ contribution to the young society of Miami isn’t the entire reason why I was sitting at the Miniaci Center surrounded by children who couldn’t stay seated and annoyed me to no end.  I came to see a show.

From an ex-amateur model standpoint, I would have to say that the modeling portion of the show was decent.  The outfits were okay, but didn’t make me sit up and take notice. 

Had this show been solely a fashion show, Images and its audience members would have been in trouble.  The models have their walks down to a science and have mastered the kick technique beautifully. 

But their poses were a bit of a faux pas.  Things like crouching down to the ground and mugging for the audience were things that were grounds for banishment when I was a “model.”  And I don’t see those things on professional runways, either.

Nevertheless, a lot of practice and discipline had to have gone into making those walks fierce, and grooming the personalities that come with being a model.  That said, the dancing saved this show. 
Talented models who can dance and perform gymnast-like movements are a hard thing to come by.  That’s two talents in one.  And Hughes is fortunate enough to have 46 model/dancers who are threats in the professional arena just strutting down the street.

One of the best things about Images is that its models are not thin.  They come in all shapes and sizes to represent the people in the audience who look just like them.  I also love that all of these high school and college students have more than one talent.  These days, a person has to have at least two talents to make it in the arts. 

There is a lot of potential in all of these models/dancers.  They have a little more work to do, but with time and patience they can become professionals.  I enjoyed all of the dance pieces of the show. 
The dances are great and the music is engaging.

Photo by Haiven Kornbluth/Best-Shot Photography, Inc. Brittney Reason-Perriman performs in Images Unplugged.