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

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 (, 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

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

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 below.

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