Karen Peterson attests that no other artist is more bound to the body's wear and tear than a dancer. As an experienced choreographer, Peterson has a unique spin on the maturation process: "As a dancer gets older she has more to offer. Maybe you can't do endless pirouettes, but there's a life history and wisdom behind each movement that you just don't have when you're 22."Peterson, founder and director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, Inc. and Excello Dance Space, has created a venue where discipline stretches beyond limitations of age and physical ability. The thirteen-year-old company, known for its work with disabled and "mixed ability" dancers, has recently opened its doors to other nontraditional performers, such as Improvgroup, a troupe of dancers who are more than 35 years old. "Everyone in the group has had dance companies and careers," Peterson explains. "So we were asking the question, 'At this point in our lives, what does dance mean to us?'"
Improvisation was always at the forefront of the group's aesthetic. "The exploratory nature of improv has now turned into a performance. I think there's a need for dance audiences to see something totally different from the finished product they're used to seeing on stages. It's important to discover and have a place to explore and experiment."
This weekend Improvgroup will perform Garage Door, relating to triggers of music, movement, and visual or spatial cues. Pieces range from a trio who incorporate all elements of the performance space, to a musical score structured for six dancers and ten oranges. One piece will be created from drawings that the audience creates. "The great thing about improvisation is you're guaranteed to see something authentic and original every time," notes Peterson. --By Mia Leonin
Garage Door -- A Full Evening of Improvisational Dance opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday April 25, and Saturday, April 26, and at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 27. Excello Dance Space, 8702 SW 129th Terr; 305-298-5879. Tickets cost $10.
He's known as the King of Russian Pop (or popsa as Russkies disparagingly dub harmless, flashy, feel-good tunes), and at a glance Moscow's Valery Leontiev -- with his long, dark, wavy locks, sculpted face, and plucked eyebrows -- does bear some resemblance to our own creepy musical monarch Michael Jackson. But Leontiev, seemingly a fan of tan in a can, boasts a darker complexion. Visually, he's an ersatz blend of Milli Vanilli, Terence Trent D'Arby, and Tiny Tim. Onstage, in futuristic outfits that appear stolen from the set of the latest Star Trek sequel, he offers an elaborate Vegas-style show replete with synchronized lights, special effects, and gyrating dancers. He's graced us with his royal presence before. Tonight at 8:00, he returns to the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach), allowing us to bask in his majesty again. It's only fitting his next gig is in Atlantic City -- at the Trump Taj Mahal. Tickets range from $35 to $100. -- Nina Korman
Fulano steps back on the local stage
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Local club audiences have heard Elsten Torres, the singer/songwriter still sometimes known as Fulano, unplugged and acoustic in English and in Spanish. So what's he up to now? The talented all-terrain Latin rocker, singer of softhearted folkie tunes and composer of pop hits, calls his current sound more rootsy than in the past -- "rock/pop blended with Miami's arroz con todo flavor." At 9:00 p.m. at Hoy Como Ayer (2212 SW Eighth St.), he'll sing almost exclusively in his ancestral tongue, Spanish. "I think more than ever before I've embraced my Cuban and Latin heritage as a performer and songwriter," Torres reports. Gozar with Torres and band members Pepe Velazquez on drums, Ricardo Martinez on bass, guitarist Fernando Perdomo, and percussionist Daniel Berroa tonight. Look for a special guest appearance by Fernando Osorio, another great local songwriter who just might treat the audience to the acoustic version of his Celia Cruz hit "La Negra Tiene Tumba." Call 305-541-2631. --By Judy Cantor
Musicians play your neighbors' living room
Take it from John Barker and his wife Maria -- apartment living isn't conducive to music loving. There's little space for your seventeen acoustic guitars. And holding a concert in the living room isn't much fun when the audience spills into the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Not surprising then that the couple traded their Miami Beach aerie for a spacious North Miami house last April. Immediately they hung those guitars on the wall and began hosting house concerts, which showcase the likes of Brit humorist Les Barker, Ozark duo Still on the Hill, and local openers. One year later, they and the Whites of Kendall are the last Miami holdouts offering events in their abode. (Two other presenters based in South Miami-Dade recently relocated to Broward.) At 7:30 tonight revered U.K. folkie Allan Taylor, on a U.S. tour, will perform at the Barkers' thanks to their cajoling. Can't make it? Relax! Accompanying the stage lights and large speakers is an eight-track digital system John installed to record CDs. Later, you can listen at home -- your own. Admission is $15. Call 305-644-9111. -- Nina Korman