Karen Peterson’s Watery World

Written By ArtBurst Team
December 29, 2016 at 7:14 PM

December 18, 2010 Living in Miami we are spoiled with the pleasures of nature and beauty unfolding. We are world-famous for our worship and dedication to the physical form, and yet we live in a complicated place — a dance of contradiction, struggle, and awe. Driving over the Macarthur Causeway, I remember water is a constant metaphor. It comprises most of our body, and hydrates our life story. Water is constantly dancing around us, moistening and heating our experiences navigating the city. Driving over the bridge, flanked by water on both sides, I imagine drinking a wave of ocean through my belly, undulating in my car seat, hoping to make traffic go by faster. I play with the idea of floating through traffic, bouncing and gliding like an old school weeblo. Choreographer Karen Peterson expands and explores these playful musings, in her show “Buoyant Dreams,” on December 11 at the Byron Carlyle Theater in Miami Beach. Pairing with video artist Maria Lino, they create a “mixed ability” choreographic piece where disabled dancers move through water on video and perform onstage in wheelchairs, with able bodied dancers in mirrored cohesion. Different choreographies elicit different moods using images of trees, sky, and projection over bodies moving together onstage. Liquid sounds envelop the stage like soft or crashing waves, chirping birds, or the clang of thunder. One choreography I especially look forward to is where the dancers perform with buckets and water onstage, using levels, spirals and lines, dancing through space like children on slip ‘n slides. The show also includes a new live jazz work, I will catch you, by choreographer Joanne Barrett, dancing live to the Wendy Pederson Jazz Trio. This section offers both choreography and extemporaneous, in-the-moment creation of dance and sound, in the spirit of jazz itself. Karen Peterson and dancers was established in 1990 and is a non-profit arts organization. Peterson graduated from the Boston Conservatory and has won numerous grants and fellowships. Karen Peterson Dance is the only Florida dance organization dedicated full-time to working with dancers with and without disabilities and has extensive outreach and programming to the disabled community. Peterson’s career trajectory reminds me of water itself; full of power and nurturing growth, feeding new worlds and nourishing the body in all its forms. Karen Peterson and Dancers celebrate their 21st season with “Buoyant Dreams” at the Byron Carlyle Theater, 500 71st St., Miami Beach, at 4:00 pm. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11. Originally published in the Sunpost in December 2010.

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