Karen Peterson and Dancers have been presenting collaborative performances using mixed abilities dancers for over 25 years. In a continuing relationship with European dance troupes, Peterson will present two unique evenings of mixed ability dance on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box Theater at 8 p.m. in a performance exchange that will include Lisbon based Amalgama Companhia de Danca, Plural_Companhia de Dança and Karen Peterson and Dancers.
The international partnership, inspired by Peterson dancer, Juan Maria Seller, is the culmination of a dance conversation that began a year ago with email exchanges among the three directors and choreographers: Sandra Battaglia of Amalgama Companhia de Dança, Rafael Alvarez of Plural_Companhia de Dança and Karen Peterson. While an exchange program for performers is not uncommon, to create an international collaborative piece of choreography that is focused mainly on mixed ability dancers is a challenging and, could even be considered, daunting task were it not for this willing, thoughtful and industrious team.
“To produce this piece, we first needed to find a point of view that we all shared. Here we are, choreographing through the internet!” Peterson laughs.
The three choreographers each conceived phrases of movement. They agreed to use ideas of exploring space, gaze, and gestures within their movement conceptions and to render a shell of a dance piece that could be easily reworked. In April, the KPD traveled to Lisbon to blend all the email conversations and information into reality and create the work. The multi-national dancers also added to the creative process finding individual identity authenticity through movement phrases. The work is ultimately structured but includes much improv that has been built through the exploration process.
The fruition of this exchange is a piece called Identity which explores the physical, linguistic, geographical and political commonalities and differences that the three companies encompass, how they are different as dance artists and yet the same. Identity was premiered in Lisbon on April 8 and will close the May performance evenings in Miami.
The Miami/Lisbon Dance Exchange performances will also include four other pieces. Miami local dance innovator, Pioneer Winter, has created Gimp Gait, a “solo for two” for himself and KPD company member and wheelchair dancer Marjorie Burnett. The work explores their private and public lives and how the perspective of the viewer may attempt to control, shape or have some sort of power over who they are.
KPD will be featured in Through A Void, Inside A Brick, a new collaboration by choreographers and KPD company members Katrina Weaver and Juan Maria Seller, with video by Ignacio Gutierrez. Based on the true story of Ana de Orosco who suddenly disappeared after her wedding in the mid-16th century, the piece investigates the ideas of confinement; self-inflicted, obligated or forced.
Using men from both KDP and Amalgama, Canto Premiero is a sensual double duet choreographed by Battaglia who will also be one of the dancers. Throughout In This Place at the Same Time, choreographed by Alvarez of Plural_Companhia de Dança. the work takes a look at the various incarnations a meeting can take and how, in this meeting, everything will be different.
Peterson says, “In Europe, there is a tremendous interest in mixed ability dance, in social work. We’ve done numerous European collaborations. Last year we were in Belgrade. We spent a week in Serbia to set a work, then they came to Miami to perform. Being in Europe is a different culture, a different language. Sometimes getting around for wheelchairs is not the easiest, but the value of dancers finding meaning, having that relationship with other dancers is very special. It’s not just about learning steps.”
“Movement is universal,” Peterson continues. “We’ve had people translating from sign language to English. The dance always falls seamlessly into place despite the cultural and language differences.”
When asked what keeps her interested and stimulated, Peterson quickly states, “For me, it has always been about the art form, the artistic excellence. All dancers want and need to have a voice.”
Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box Theater 2901 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33135. For tickets, www.ticketmaster.com Call 305-298-5879