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Miamiartzine Dance Review for
By Cameron BasdenWednesday, May 17, 2017


By Patricia Sowers (audience member)
May 2017

The Dance:
I say yes yes yes to your artistic equivalencies, especially Hugo's Les Miserables and Rodin's Burghers of Calais. I hadn't thought about either piece but your observation (it takes a nerd) is spot on. When the dancers reluctantly moved offstage to the right, there is a resignation in their movements that definitely references the burghers as they march in surrender to save Calais. Even now the referencing adds an even richer appreciation of the work.

The mound-like clumping of tired, discarded bodies screams heaps of garbage to me. Some might call them the leftovers. Very effective staging. The grey raggedness of the dancers and its haunting parallel to Les Miserables is indisputable and it's this very vision of desolation that sets the tone for the entire performance.

Despite the comments I heard as we left the theater, the Holocaust never crossed my mind. I didn't make that connection. Maybe it was the dirt on the floor and the dark staging. In fact, I didn't connect with any specific event - even the Holocaust - but rather the larger reality of unending dislocation & genocide in all of human history.

There are many powerful moments for me, Maria, such as the lascivious objectification of the "female," daughter, mother, lover, fighter, victim. The three male predators close in on her, insistent, groping the "she," and although none ever touch her breasts or genitalia, this pantomime of aggression is clearly a gang rape on every level, suggesting the larger globalization of rape in human trafficking. In a later scene, the victim becomes the aggressor and the "male" is attacked by several females. This spectacle of women as predators never rises to the level of sexual violence signified so clearly in the earlier attack on the "female." As a woman, I am by nature more sensitive to the physical vulnerabilities of all women so perhaps my perspective might be a bit compromised. Someone suggested how different it would have been to have had the "male" attacked by other males. It's an interesting thought.

Then there was the dance of the small red-headed woman in a wheel chair and her lover as he lifts and carries her in an achingly tender love dance. It was the only time I spoke as I leaned over to my friend and whispered "Lovely."

Finally, the last scene: the lamentation. A father - or is he a lover? - leans over the lifeless body of his child - or is it his lover? His voice is raspy and powerful. He sings, his "canto hondo" and reveals the depth of his despair. In the end, child or lover doesn't matter. This is the dance's final meditation on love and loss. It was a magnificent finale.

The Video:
And then there's the video. At times, I perceived a different tone in the video, more personal, less dystopian, and may I add, more hopeful.

I don't think the dance could have been successful without it. Excellent lighting notwithstanding, more light from somewhere else is needed to offset the darker landscape onstage. The video projection did just that. An example of the use of daylight is the Banyon tree segment with the dancers moving in and out light and the thick trunks and woody roots. The film work personalized the dancers and oftentimes offered different perspectives from what was occurring in the dance. The intersection of stage and screen offers new and deeper layers of understanding.

The feet segment is brilliant as is the decision to use it during the heart wrenching finale. After all - and forgive the redundancy - the overarching narrative in Scrutiny is about walking. It is about movement, about refugees walking away, running, climbing, searching, escaping. It is the story performed by those who can walk and those who cannot. They remind us of what drives millions of people everyday to leave their homes and unspeakable violence in an endless journey to safety. It is a story about feet. As one dancer said, I love to walk because I can't.



Winning Arts Challenge Ideas Celebrate the Overlooked Miami

Knightfoundation.org - Arts / Article: November 28, 2016
By: Adam Ganuza

SouthFlorida.com - October 20, 2016
Mixed Ability Dance Company Creates Unique Forms of Expression

Barbara Corbellini Duarte - Contact Reporter

Miami Herald - Letters to the Editor:
May 18, 2016 8:24 PM

Dance Troupe

It’s not enough to just read about the KPD troupe. Their dance programs must be experienced live to be fully appreciated. The cultural element was compelling in the music and dance.

I was moved by the freedom of the wheelchair dancers and the care shown by their traditional dance partners. The performers were fluid grace in motion in light of limitations and athleticism. In pairs and as an ensemble, the dancers moved so beautifully together.

Bravo to Karen Peterson with her uplifting dance troupe.

Connie Goodman-Milone, Miami


2016 Links:

May 12, 2016
The Miami Herald - Tropical Life: Dance that Crosses Physical and Geographical Boundaries

May 11, 2016
Miami New Times - Artburst Miami: Miami and Lisbon Dance Companies Unite for a Special Two-Day Performance

May 10, 2016
WLRN: Dance With A Message: I Am More Than My Wheelchair

2015 Links:

25th Anniversary Trailer

2014 Links:

Art Burst Trailer

Miamiartzine – May 2014

The 8th Talent Showcase (School Performance)

Group Choreography Excerpts 2012-2014

Miami ArtGuide – May 2014

Video Interview In the Studio

Miami New Times - Karen Peterson's Grit Pushes Limits on Mixed-Abilities Dance

2013 Links:

YouTube – AP Story by Lynn Sladsky

ABC Local News

The Kennedy Center Very Special Arts Newsletter – Karen Peterson and Dancers International Cultural Exchange

2012 Links:

Water Dance with Maria Lino

CBS Local News

2011 Links:

PBS – The Amazing Dancers by Joey Doud


CBS Local News

VIMEO - Karen Petersonand Dancers

VIMEO - Karen Petersonand Dancers - Trio Trees

VIMEO - Karen Petersonand Dancers - Margie and Dia


KPD Concert Ttrailer for May 2015

KPD Presents at the Pinecrest Gardens

Artburst Coverage

Balkan Visitors

Dance Scrutinizes World Gone Astray
Karen Peterson Dancers Dare To Pose Uncomfortable Questions

""Scrutiny" was not a performance to "like." It wasn't built to be "likeable." It was beautifully done, with impeccable lighting by Gary Lund and absolute commitment from all the participants. The performance opened perceptions to alternative ways of doing conventional things. Peterson dares to do things differently. She challenges the dancers and audience to alter the rules and to never take for granted what is"

Click Here to See the Full Review


Karen Peterson and Dancers Receives Major Funding For Mixed-Ability Event

November 29, 2016

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge, announced this week that Karen Peterson and Dancers (KPD) has been awarded a major grant of $150,000 to launch Forward Motion, an annual integrated dance festival and conference in Miami. KPD is South Florida’s only professional company dedicated to mixed ability or integrated work, and Forward Motion is the next step in advancing their work. Forward Motion will be one of the first annual events anywhere in the world dedicated to bringing together dancers with and without disabilities – including leading international companies of excellence, teachers and choreographers – for public performances, new commissions, community teaching, and professional educational opportunities.

Mixed-ability dance is an exciting and growing movement that seeks to redefine dance vocabulary and the way in which choreographers use the human body in performance, as well as to create an inclusive art form that bridges boundaries and obstacles. It challenges artistic and societal perceptions of what defines physical beauty and beautiful movement, and shifts the paradigms of the field of dance. Forward Motion, building on this existing field of integrated dance, is projected to be an annual four-day event launching in 2018. “Forward Motion will truly be an amazing step forward for our community of mixed ability dancers, educators and audiences here in South Florida,” said Karen Peterson of KPD.

Candoco, in addition to Karen Peterson and Dancers, is committed to being part of the first edition of Forward Motion.  London-based Candoco is (www.candoco.co.uk/home), one of mixed-ability’s leading contemporary groups, which The Guardian called, “Brilliant and bracing, gripping to watch.” They work with a range of world-class choreographers, and have led the field in terms of educational methods and a school that is physically integrated. Miami’s own Karen Peterson and Dancers will be part of the festival with a new work by Juan Maria Seller, Katrina Weaver and Karen Peterson that demonstrates their unique history of collaboration and integration. The Miami Herald states “KPD and the highest level of integrate dance at its best in Miami” (May 2015)

Knight Foundation’s funding is through its Knight Arts Challenge, which supports the best ideas for bringing South Florida together through the arts. The support covers a two-year period, and must be matched dollar for dollar. Peterson and her colleagues are already hard at work on seeking additional funds for Forward Motion. “This is a project that we are excited to take on, one we hope will grow our funding base and audience both locally and nationally,” adds Peterson.

Karen Peterson and Dancers is Florida’s leading company dedicated to integrating dancers and students with a range of physical abilities. They have presented an annual season of new work at multiple venues throughout South Florida, and have performed throughout the U.S. and internationally. They were founded in 1990 and are dedicated to the development, education and presentation of dance through workshops and performances, integrating dancers and students with a range of physical abilities. In honor of her work, Ms. Peterson has received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the New World School of the Arts, a Bank of America "Cultural Award" from the American Red Cross, and a "Queen of the Arts” Award from the Miami Herald. For more on the company and to support Forward Motion visit www.karenpetersondancers.org.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots, investing in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Their goal is to foster informed and engaged communities essential for a healthy democracy. For more on Knight visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Additional support for Karen Peterson and Dancers comes in part from Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; The Miami Salon Group; The Children’s Trust; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in partnership with Very Special Arts; Citizens Interested in the Arts; Leibowitz Trust; Jewish Communal Fund; WLRN; and other donors.

– Hi res images, video and other materials,and interviews with key talent, are available upon request –

– A trailer featuring “Forward Motion” headlining dance companies can be seen at https://vimeo.com/175646442


Click Here for an IDENTITY video

Karen Peterson and Dancers, a "cultural gem" based in Miami, Florida presents a video retrospective of their physically integrated work since
1990. This three minute film documents the company's work in the Miami
Dade Public Schools, their work abroad and a list of repertory presented
for audiences on a local, national and international level.



"Art as a Tool for Social Inclusion of Youth"
Video of the Performance "Body Without a Text"

May 11-17, 2013, UK "Vuk Karadzic" performance of "Body without a text".

The 2013 Miami / Balkan Dance Exchange is sponsored in part by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor, the Miami Dade County Board of County Commissioners and the Cultural Exchange Fund from the Association of Performing Arts Presenter.



Also please click the link below to see what WLRN (Miami PBS) is saying about the company by reporter, Joey Daoud,
tagged as dance / documentary / PBS

Donate Now Via PayPal

“Karen Peterson and Dancers 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. The 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 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

Please contact our Accessibility Coordinator, Karen Peterson at karen@karenpetersondancers.orgwith any questions or concerns regarding performances or worksh