Karen Peterson and Dancers (KPD) performed to standing ovations February 2-3, 2013 at the Banyan Bowl Amphitheater, opening its 23rd season in Miami, Florida. The performances began with the premiere of a work titled Moment which featured the debut of KPD’s new youth dancers, ages 15 to 21 years, who are diagnosed with physical, developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, alongside the The Miami String Project comprised of young musicians.
The KPD dancers collaborate, research and integrate their personal movement styles, discovering together an innovative dance language. The troupe provides a positive role model for the disability community and offers new visual inspiration for traditional dance audiences. Some of the dancers are mentally challenged and some physically. Like child star Atticus Shaffer, KPD dancer Bonnie Malcolm suffers from brittle bone disease, while other troupe members are challenged with Cerebral Palsy, intellectual disabilities, spinal cord injuries, Down Syndrome, and Spina Bifida. What these kids share, above all else, is a love of dance.
“The KPD dance program gives these children a program that does not mandate perfection because of mental or physical challenges,” says dance mom Sendi Goss. “It builds their confidence and social skills as well as finding an outlet of acceptance regardless of their disability. They are actually having fun while working hard. This program is pleasurable and productive for the child who regularly has to attend occupational and physical therapy to achieve the same results. My daughter’s social skills, attitude, self confidence, visual motor and physical skills have improved and she dances everywhere she goes. It is an incredible program for the special needs kids without the pressure to achieve unobtainable physical and mental goals expected in a regular dance class. The program is truly a beautiful experience for my daughter and her friend who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.”
“Feedback from the audiences was electric,” Founder and Artistic Director Karen Peterson said, “Two standing ovations made me feel like I am on the right track as a choreographer.”
Peterson has been working with her new group of mixed-abilities youth dancers since June of 2012: “I especially loved working with the youth dancers who had little reference to contemporary dance. Through improvisation I helped them find a sense of freedom in their own personal movement styles, teaching them to not hold back. Their honesty and sincerity, plus their powerful love of performance, added freshness to our production.”
“The combination of classical musicians playing onstage alongside contemporary dancers is powerful,” said Karen Peterson. “We had new audience members who had never seen the company perform and they were moved.”
KPD was founded in 1990 as a not-for-profit dance organization, which commissions and produces the work of dance artists both with and without disabilities (performing together in an integrated scope), through its quality-based programs and educational workshops. Dancers create and perform mixed-abilities dance as an inclusive art form on a year-round basis. The company will tour this year throughout Florida, Europe and Latin America.
KPD is the only full-time, mixed-abilities dance company in the Southeast dedicated to year-round education and entertainment and boasts a stellar history of commitment to integrated dance and renowned artistic integrity.
March 1, 2013 KPD holds it’s “The 7th Talent Showcase,” the inclusive dance showcase for teens with special needs at Hialeah Sr High School’s Auditorium.
KPD’s performs a series of “New Work” at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium Black Box Space on April 11 and 12, 2013. New choreographic works created and performed by Dale Andre and Joanne Barrett will be featured alongside Peterson’s newest choreography including video installations and guest dancers flown in from European mixed-abilities dance companies.
TO BELGRADE …
In May 2013, Karen Peterson and senior dance company member Katrina Weaver will facilitate a seven-day movement workshop for Grupa Hajde Da, a mixed-abilities dance company based in Belgrade Serbia to introduce inclusion as a contemporary dance form for six individuals from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia. This workshop of twenty four dance artists without disabilities will culminate in a community performance based on improvisational scores discovered by the students. Peterson will work closely with the Artistic Director Boris Caksiran and Executive Producer Marko Pejovic to then return to Belgrade in December for the “Off Frame” Dance Festival.
AND TO GUATEMALA …
KPD will present a mixed-ability duet by senior dance company members John Beauregard and Katrina Weaver at Danceforms’ 62nd International Choreographers’ Showcase, part of the IX June Arts Festival in Guatemala City June 21-22, 2013. Peterson will also lead a one-day workshop for the Walter Peter-Alas de Libertad group, an inclusive dance company in Guatemala City.
“I will continue to create dances from my gut source, celebrating our passion for all-inclusive dance in America,” said Peterson. “Our vision is to continue creating bold new dance art for all abilities, to inspire everyone to celebrate our passion for dance.”
About Karen Peterson and Dancers:
Karen Peterson and Dancers’s 23rd season is funded in part by: the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge, helping bring South Florida together through the arts. By The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County. By the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and by the National Endowment for the Arts. Supported in part by: Coldwell Bankers, The Mildred Pallas Levenson Dance Foundation, Miami Salon Group, Citizens Interested in the Arts, the Whitten Foundation, CEP APAP Travel Award and Power2Give.