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Karen Peterson, project director, is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory, has received numerous awards for her choreography and is a past VSA teaching artist, performer and trainer. Karen has developed and led “mixed-ability” dance events with her company (KPD) since 1990 and have represented Florida on a local, national and international level. She has taught and performed mixed-ability at various dance and disability festivals in NYC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Brazil, Italy, Scotland, Bosnia, Serbia, Guatemala, Belgrade and Montenegro. KPD performed for the VSA International Conference in Washington D.C. in 2010 and directed workshops in Guatemala City for “Alas de Libertad” (Wings of Freedom), a VSA Latin American partner. She is a Bank of America Cultural Award Winner from the American Red Cross for 2015. Karen was the facilitator for KPD’s “Miami Lisbon Dance Exchange” and created performances for her troupe in Lisbon (April 2016) and Miami (2016)



Tickets for Scrutiny are available on Ticketmaster

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.



“The 11th Talent Showcase inspired by
“The Musical”
Choreography by Juan Maria Seller, Lize-Lotte Pitlo, Lucia Aratanha, Lela Lombardo and Karen Peterson

Performed by 275 Teens with Special Needs from
15 Miami Dade Public Schools

Miami Senior High School – Friday, March 3, 2017 at 10 AM
2450 SW 1st Street, Miami 33135
Tickets -  $5.00

“The Miami/Vienna Dance Exchange &
and Karen Peterson & Dancers Present:
“Scrutiny – The World Gone Astray”
Choreography by Juan Maria Seller, Katrina Weaver, Karen Peterson
Video and Visuals by Maria Lino

Performed by 14 dance artists, seven with disabilities,
from Miami and Vienna

Miami Dade County Auditorium –
Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 at 8 PM

2901 West Flagler Street, Black Box
Tickets -  $20 - $25.00

For more information call


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

Click Here for The KPD 2015 Newsletter

"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.


The Nation's Premiere
Mixed-Abilities Dance Company
in the Southeast Joins Forces with
Miami's Top Classical Musicians

(MIAMI) - Karen Peterson and Dancers performed to standing ovations with the Crosstown String Quartet and The Miami String Project at the Banyan Bowl amphitheater at Pinecrest Gardens, opening their 23rd season in Miami.
(Photos by Mariolga Ramirez)

"The combination of classical musicians playing onstage alongside contemporary dancers is powerful," said Founder and Artistic Director Karen Peterson. "Feedback from the audiences was electric. Two standing ovations made me feel like I am on the right track as a choreographer. We had new audience members who had never seen the company perform and they were moved."

Karen Peterson and Dancers (KPD) was founded in 1990 in Miami as a not-for-profit dance organization, and commissions and produces the work of dance artists with and without disabilities (performing together in an integrated scope), through its quality-based programs and educational workshops. Dancers with and without disabilities 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 that educates and entertains year-round, boasting a stellar history of commitment to integrated dance and renowned artistic integrity.

The performances began with the premiere of a work titled Moment which featured the debut of KPD's new youth dancers (ages 15-21) who are diagnosed with physical, developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, alongside the Miami String Project (comprised of young musicians). Audiences experienced never-before-seen works of choreography set to The Lover's Waltz by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and The Chinese Folk Tunes by Bright Sheng.

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 second half, Potpourria, was a bold blend of synchronicity and spontaneity between the company's senior dancers and the professional musicians from the The Crosstown String Quartet.8 musical selections with original choreography by Karen Peterson were set to music by Vivaldi, Bach, Britten, Grieg, Petersburski, Summers and Piazzola, performed by the quartet.











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

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“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