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An Unusual Event: Karen Peterson and Dancers

Mixed-Ability Dancers Have True Grit

I had to look up the word Grit, the title of the recent piece presented by Karen Peterson and Dancers. It’s not that I didn’t know what the word meant, but wondered how it was to be put to use in a dance piece. Struggle, the fight for a place in the world and fear were all played out in this one hour dance.

For those of you who don’t know, Karen Peterson and Dancers have been presenting integrated dance for 25 years in South Florida. Her company consists of trained dancers and dance artists (those with mixed ability). Peterson refers to all her dancers as Dance Artists. Lest you think that being in a wheelchair means you can’t dance, I’ve got news for you.

John Beauregard and Shawn Buller are both confined to wheelchairs. They are daring and aggressive and fierce as they careen around the stage. There is beauty in their upper bodies as they fend off other dancers. Leaning and swerving, their movement is as interesting as the able bodied dancers. When Beauregard is thrown out of his wheelchair, you hold your breath until he moves again, by rolling across the floor and into the wings.

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