Fighter with a Heart
By Sarah Hodges
Kevin Capretto is a real fighter, in the best sense of the word. At the same time, Kevin has been the friendly voice and face making zoom classes approachable for thousands of Still & Moving Center’ online students. His innocent smile and immense kindness towards every single person I’ve seen him interact with don’t reveal just how much of life’s grittiness he’s experienced up to this point, and just how hard he’s fought for what he believes is right.
I first met Kevin in 2020 when he joined the Still & Moving Center staff from his home computer in New York. l Kevin was a brilliant ‘find’ for Still & Moving by our operations manager Neelanthi Vadivel, who had previously enjoyed working together with Kevin at Cirque du Soleil, a highly acclaimed, world-touring circus company. Now that Cirque was on pause during the pandemic, Kevin accepted a job as the Center’s Ambassador of First Impressions. After a few years of pandemically-altered work, Kevin returns to his on-the-road job with with Cirque. A big congraduations to Kevin!
Never fear, Kevin is maintaining his cheerful, shining presence at Still & Moving, just a bit less than usual during his stint with Cirque.
Over the five years of his previous work with Cirque du Soleil, Kevin has gone to battle for artists’ rights to possess work visas, helped them with their workers compensation, and he’s juggled some unbelievably difficult and life-threatening situations. Face-to-face with the complex world of immigration, Kevin struggled tirelessly to find the right embassy contacts, lawyers, and resources to allow the very talented artists, staff and technicians the legal rights to work and tour with Cirque Du Soleil.
In one of his most memorable and tragic experiences, Kevin was working on the road with a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show when something went very wrong with an acrobatic apparatus. The aerialists in an act who were dangling by their hair plunged over 30 feet to the ground, and the most horrifying potential of these daring acts come to reality. Of the 8 aerialists and one dancer on the ground who survived, three were severely injured and needed all the help possible to get them proper care, healing, and their families’ support. Many of the family members were in countries such as Ukraine where travel visas to the US were difficult to obtain, especially in an expedient timeframe.
Kevin fought. He made countless calls to the insurance company, arguing the necessity for the artists’ special care, not just the standard physical rehab that paralleled what an elderly person would receive. These women were high-performance athletes and had their whole lives ahead of them. They needed the kind of rehabiltation, therapy and surgery that would give them the best potential for a working future.
Kevin recounts having to find a particular, highly-skilled surgeon, and then convey to the surgeon what he need to communicate to the insurance company for them to approve the surgery. Once Kevin was able to get the paperwork settled for family members, he met them and spent sleepless nights sitting, consoling them, making hospital visits between Boston and Prodidence, and being a caring heart to turn to in the midst of so much tragedy. After the acrobats left the hospital, Kevin followed up and made sure they continued to receive all the care needed for recovery – to the fullest extent possible. None of this was required in Kevin’s job description. He became very close to the performers and their families, to this day counting them as some of the closest people in his life, like family.
As you can see, together with his fighting spirit, Kevin does everything with heart – a LOT of heart. The artists for whom he advocates to secure their immigration documents are not just numbers or names on paper to Kevin. He works with dedication on their behalf, seeing every individual as if they are a close friend. And, he gets the job done.
It seems as if Kevin could tell stories of the wild adventures of his life endlessly. Although I’m talking to him on the phone, I can imagine that I’m right beside him still on the edge of my seat after hours of rapt listening. Listening to his heart as well as other people’s seems to be at the center of all these stories. Kevin is someone who really follows his heart and sees the heart in everyone around him.
From a very early age when Kevin discovered his love for dance, he decided to follow his heart’s calling despite so many people saying it was not masculine, and teasing him. He pushed through the negative feedback, so sure that the joy dance brought him was true and worth pursuing. And it was. His love of dance took him from his HR job at a local supermarket in New York, to the road with the famous Ringling Brothers circus show, to his work with Cirque du Soleil. and with Still & Moving Center all the way in Hawai’i.
Kevin manages to act with determination and heart even when he doesn’t know exactly how he will make it through to the other side of a challenge. He fondly remembers stories of his grandfather, who – in the face of all the obstacles that life served him – always kept a light heart and moved through difficulties with a healthy dose of good humor.
You might ask Kevin someday about the time he lived on a train with a traveling circus for nearly three year. Imagine a mobile circus community scooting around the country on a trans-Atlantic train shipping route, each person with their little apartment-on-tracks, moving from state to state performing death-defying feats, horses and elephants included. Kevin continues to live full-heartedly, ready for adventure and ready to fight the good fight when it’s called for. And always with a tender heart.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)