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Peterson's work has emotional intelligence and touches places in your heart that only a true artist can go. -Mary C.Kane, New York City
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KPD Board Members Bios

Karen Peterson Corash (executive and artistic director)
Karen is the Founder and Artistic Director of KPD (Karen Peterson and Dancers) and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory. Karen has been a leader of “mixed-ability” dance since 1990 and under her direction, KPD has represented the State of Florida at conference and festivals in New York City, Atlanta, Cleveland, Brazil, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Montenegro, Belgrade and Ireland. Since 2006, the company has facilitated a 20-week dance residency for Miami Dade students with special needs and earned its first John and James L. Knight Foundation award in 2012. Karen has also been a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New World School of the Arts, a CEF APAP Travel award to set new work for dancers in Sarajevo, Bosnia; in 2013, the Rosemary Kennedy internship Initiative from VSA International and in 2015 the Red Cross Sara Hopkins Woodruff Spectrum Award for women who have made a significant impact across the “spectrum” of communities and cultures. She is a four-time choreography fellowship winner from Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

Diane de Vries Ashley (finance)
Diane began her career in New York City at Bankers Trust Company, now Deutsche Bank, after College at Tufts University and extensive courses in Art History at Columbia University.  After Credit Training, and on the job training, Ashley accepted an invitation to move to Brasil to become the bank’s first female Senior Representative, based in Sao Paulo, Brasil.    Five years moved her back to the US and on to several other financial institutions both in New York and Miami Florida, but still continuing to move up the corporate ladder, to management jobs. During her career, Ashley also consulted on such wide-ranging topics as International Private Banking, Anti-money Laundering Compliance among others.  She was invited to join the staff of Bank of America as head of the Private Bank for Miami-Dade/Monroe Counties, a management and sales position.  She became very involved in the community and spent time dedicated to non-profit boards such as Florida Grand Opera, Miami Art Museum, Jackson Memorial Foundation, Miami Music Project, Arts for Learning, among others.  Today, Ashley still participates on non-profit boards, and is a member of International Women’s Forum, Florida International Bankers Association (and former President).  What takes up most of her time today? is a dual focus on teaching financial courses for FIU School of Business’ Executive MBA program overseas (taught in Spanish) and being an outside Director of Banco do Brasil Americas (BBA), a paid directorship She is fluent in five languages and holds numerous Securities and Supervisory licenses.

Judy Litt (education)
Judy Litt is the Education and Community Engagement Director at Miami Theater Center located in Miami Shores, Florida and coordinates its Theatre Inclusion Program (TIP) and manages partnerships with Miami-Dade County public schools and organizations serving adults and children with disabilities.  TIP offers adaptations, study guides, behind-the-scenes Touch Tours and other programs to enhance the theater experience of individuals with varying disabilities. Among her many accomplishments, Mrs. Litt was instrumental in bringing cutting-edge shadow interpretation” to south Florida stages.  During the 2010-2011 theater season, Miami Theater Center (then known as The Play round Theatre), in conjunction with the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and VSA Florida, presented The Love of Three Oranges with shadow interpretation.  During shadow-interpreted theatre, specially trained ASL interpreters performed as “shadows” alongside MTC company members.  The shadow actors are integrated into the performance, mirroring the voiced actors on stage, while interpreting the character in American Sign Language (ASL). Mrs. Litt has taken a leadership role in South Florida, garnering resources to support theater inclusion programming and presenting “lessons learned.” She serves on the Steering Committee for All Kids Included, a grant program of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs that encourages non-profit organizations to create ADA/Accessible arts experiences for children with disabilities, so that all children have the opportunity to participate in the arts. She also serves on the board of directors at VSA Florida as board secretary and is a member of FLACA (Florida Access Coalition for the Arts). Mrs. Litt was awarded the Best Practices in Access Award for the state of Florida, presented by Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and VSA Florida and was awarded The Kennedy Center’s LEAD Award for Emerging Leaders in August 2010; and in 2012 the Homer Avila Award for Excellence in the Field of Mixed Ability in 2012.  Mrs. Litt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Education from Adelphi University.

Ms. Watts-FitzGerald (legal)
has acted as outside legal general counsel to nonprofit and for profit entities for over 36 years.  She was recently recognized for her 36 years of experience providing legal advice to nonprofit organizations and their boards of directors by Corporate America Legal Elite, being designated the Best for Nonprofit Entities in the State of Florida. Over the years, Abi has represented a variety of nonprofit organizations and their boards as outside general counsel, including, without limitation, The Orange Bowl Committee, Inc., Gulliver Schools, Inc., Norton Museum of Art, Inc., The Collins Center for Public Policy, Inc., the South Florida Golf Foundation, Inc., Hands on Miami, Inc., and Broward Bulldog, Inc.

Cynthia Henley, P.T. (secretary)
received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Boston Bouve College, Northeastern University in 1981.  She has more than 30 years’ experience as a physical therapist in acute and rehabilitation hospitals, home care and private P.T. practice. She volunteered at the University of Miami Post-Polio Clinic for more than 15 years and is a member of Polio Health International, providing lectures at conferences and to support groups. Along with her career in physical ther
apy, Ms. Henley is active on the Executive Board of Advanced Driver Rehabilitation.  This program offers evaluation and adaptive driver training for clients with neurological, muscular, degenerative, and traumatic injuries and disease.   In the past, she held Executive Board positions with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.

Beth Gordon (inclusion and education)
Is an inclusion consultant and education specialist for the Miami Dade County area. For twenty years, she has served on many boards is an independent contractor for Very Special Arts and “All Kids Included” (AKI) for Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs.


History of Karen Peterson & Dancers
International Cultural Exchange Projects (2001 – 2013)    Click Here to See BCM Article

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – three performances, two workshops (April 4-8, 2001)
Dancers:  Susan Sanborn, Vanessa Chamberlain, Carrie Trafton, Michelle Urrella, Jennifer Lofgreen
Director: Karen Peterson

  • Performances and Workshop for 500 Special needs clients:
  • Estacao Especial Da Lapa (Lapa Special School) - a State Government Facility for the disabled - gymnasium workshop and performance
  • Outdoor Rooftop Performance at Estudio Nova Dance – 100 audience members
  • Performance at Officina Cultural Oswald de Andrade small theatre– 75 audience members

***The dance company also attended a reception at the home of the Cultural Minister and took ballet and modern dance classes, as guests at various studios, throughout the city.

Two workshops, one performance (April 20 -25, 2002)
Dancers: John Beauregard, Pin Ling Lin, Tara York, Carla Gonzalez   
Assistant to Mr. Beauregard: Mary Kane
Director: Karen Peterson

  • Two workshops at the central therapy center in Bologna, attended by 75 special needs clients and their therapists from area rehabilitations facilities and special needs schools
  • One Performance at the Carpi Theatre attended by 500 audience members and local residents

Dancers: Letty Bassart, Jenny Llewellyn Jones, John Beauregard
Assistant to Mr. Beauregard: Mary Kane
Director/dancer: Karen Peterson
5 performances

  • At Garage Theatre, Venue 81 to an audience of 500 at the Edinburgh official site

Dancers: Letty Bassart, Jenny Llewellyn Jones, Enid Harum Alvarez, Karen Peterson
3 performances:

  • The 28th International Choreographers Showcase” : the XXII Marató de l’Espectacle in Barcelona on June 4, and two performances at Sala Cuarta Pared in Madrid on June 7, 8, 2005.

***photo documentation is available for events listed above
*** “mixed-ability” workshops and /or performances were associated with all
International Projects listed above – except Spain  - as requested by Producer

Dancers: Enid Harum Alvarez, John Beauregard, Jessica Pusceddu, Jennifer Smallwood, Erin St John, Shawn Buller, Karen Peterson
2 performances:

  • The 40th International Choreographers Showcase” at the Montenegrin National Theater in Podgorica.
  • Four day workshop at the Youth Disability Center followed by a community performance with Miami and Montenegrin Dancers.

TREBINJE, BOSNIA -  May 1-5, 2010
Dancers:  John Beauregard, Jennifer Smallwood, Katrina Weaver, Karen Peterson
5 day workshop followed by a community performance with 26 eastern European artists with and without disabilities
***photo documentation is available for events listed above
*** “mixed-ability” workshops and /or performances associated with all
International Projects listed above – (except Spain  - as requested by Presenter)

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA  and HEZEGOVINA-  May 17-25, 2012
Choreography set on four Balkan dancers, Zeljko Budmir, Lejla Muhic, Elma Selman and Miona Siskovic – Presenter ARS Performaars International (Olga Zulovic)
Public performance at the Sartre Theatre, Sarajevo – June 26, 2012

KAREN PETERSON DANCERS 23RD SEASON OF DANCE  with two guest dance artists from Sarajevo, Bosnia at the Miami Dade County Auditorium, On Stage Black Box, April 11,12th at 8PM 2013

BELGRADE, SERBIA – May 11-18, 2013; Karen Peterson and Katrina Weaver teach a seven day inclusive dance workshop a for “Grupa Hajde Da” followed by community performance

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA – June 19- 23rd KPD will present a mixed-ability duet, with John Beauregard and Katrina Weaver, at "Danceforms' 62nd International Choreographers' Showcase" at the IX June Arts Festival in Guatemala City on June 21, 22, 2013. Ms Peterson will also offer a one-day workshop to the Walter Peter-Alas de Libertad group an inclusive dance company in Guatemala City.

BELGRADE, SERBIA – December 13-18 – “The Off Frame Festival”, Karen Peterson and Dancers perform at this prestigious festival (now in its 12th year) that addresses social and political contemporary issues.  Shawn Buller, John Beauregard, Katrina Weaver and Bernadette Salgado make the rigorous 14-hour flight for the 5-day festival.

Karen Peterson and Dancers with Dance Artists from Bosnia and Montenegro
Karen Peterson and Dancers with Dance Artists from Bosnia and Montenegro

Four Dance Artists perform Karen Peterson’s work “dance 4 4” at the Sarajevo War Theatre, May 2012.
Four Dance Artists perform Karen Peterson’s work “dance 4 4” at the Sarajevo War Theatre, May 2012

***photo documentation is available for events listed above
*** “mixed-ability” workshops and /or performances associated with all
International Projects listed above – (except Spain - as requested by Presenter)

"'Perfume de Gardenias' features a wheel chaired dancer, all innovative and accessible"-The Scottish Newspaper Daily Dance Reviews

"... an engaging blend of synchronicity and spontaneity"-The Miami Herald

“Mano a Mano is a tour de force, offering a more a more exquisite and inquisitive look at mixed ability dance”….. “innovative and meaningful”-Mia Leonin, Performance Journalism

"Karen Peterson and Dancers is redefining dance"-Joanne Green, Miami New Times

"this is a most interesting dance company and one that should attract attention of dance lovers; in the future buy a ticket", Marj O'Neil Butler for Miami ArtZine Magazine

"Buoyant Dreams was beautiful. It brought the concert up to a new level. Please tell your dancers how much they were admired"-Anna Preston, VSA Regional Coordinator for the Lyric Theatre, Stuart, Florida

"unconventional concepts of beauty, using two traditional dancers and two in wheelchairs
with recorded video"-Jordan Levin, The Miami Herald

"daring artistic challenge to society's notions of physical form and graceful movement"-ENZ Magazine

"Ms. Peterson has consistently performed outstanding work locally, statewide and nationally and made vital contributions to the field of accessibility to the cultural arts"
-Marion Winters, Executive Director, VSA Florida

Carlos Ochoa, Tom Olsen, Danielle Peloquin




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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.org with any questions or concerns regarding performances or worksh