BRONX PORTRAITS 2003 / 2012
Katzenstein began the Bronx Portraits project as a guest to rehearsals for a high school production of Grease. Jon Adam Ross, the director, who was a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, invited him to visit the school in the South Bronx to witness the transformation of the group of students who were participating in the play. He was both intrigued and exhilarated by the energy of the students.
Jane Addams Vocational High School received a grant for the 2002-2003 school year to mount a musical, something the school had never done. Grease was chosen for its relevance concerning the life of high school students (gangs, romance, identity, etc.). There were three successful performances of the play with a raucous and appreciative local crowd of students and family members.
In May 2012 Ross and Katzenstein organized a reunion of the original cast. The goal was to photograph the alumnae nine years later in the same locations and also create video interviews of each participant, asking them how being a part of the production of Grease had an impact on their lives. The project proved to be a remarkable and enlightening experience for all and is a testament to the importance that are plays in the shaping of young peoples lives.