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Arts & Culture

Karen Peterson And Dancers Takes 30th Anniversary Celebration To A Virtual Stage

Karen Peterson and Dancers
Dancers with the Karen Peterson and Dancers company take part in a Zoom rehearsal

The dance company is renowned for featuring choreography performed by dancers with and without disabilities.

Along with forcing the cancellation of countless live shows throughout South Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic has also put the kibosh on performances meant to celebrate milestones.

One example is Karen Peterson and Dancers. The company was set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this past spring with a live show before the pandemic pulled the plug.

"We were all incredibly disappointed," says founder Karen Peterson. "We had worked over a year on creating new choreography and creating a sort of a mini-tour of Naples, Florida."

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But the celebration has moved into the virtual realm. Karen Peterson and Dancers will perform online this coming Sunday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.

Since 1990, the mixed-ability company — also known as KPD — has become best known for featuring works for dancers with and without disabilities.

For Peterson, moving the work online posed a new kind of challenge.

"The work that I love to do has a lot of intimate contact — skin on skin, bone on bone, weight exchange, trust between dancers," she says. "And when you look at dancers in a Zoom box, they're just two-dimensional figures. So that took me so much time to get used to! How can I have these dancers contact with each other even though they're in different parts of the country?"

Undaunted, Peterson taught herself how to use the Zoom platform and even built some skills on iMovie.

"It was a creative exploration for me," says Peterson.

The online performance will begin with a live introduction and end with a live Q&A with participating artists.

Audience members can participate by signing up for the Zoom platform through the link on the Karen Peterson and Dancers website.

Virtual 30th Anniversary Performance
Karen Peterson and Dancers

Sunday, October 18, 7 p.m.

Online on the KPD website and other social media platforms.

Admission is free but a $10 “virtual ticket” suggested donation can also be made via the KPD website.

FOR MORE INFO: Visit the Karen Peterson and Dancers website or call 305-298-5879.

WLRN's series "Intermission" has been looking at how South Florida’s arts community is coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also tells the stories of non-professionals who have been nurturing their "inner artists" in the midst of pandemic-driven isolation.

If you’ve got a story for us, please send an email to talktous@wlrnnews.org, with the word “Intermission” in the subject line.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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