Miami dance company Karen Peterson and Dancers will close its 26th season this weekend with a series of premieres as well as collaborations with two of Portugal’s leading dance companies: Amalgama Companhia de Danca and Plural. These groups, like Peterson’s, are committed to exploring what physicality and mixed-ability are all about.
The evening performances will begin with dancers and choreography from Lisbon’s Amalgama Companhia de Dança. The piece features two duets in an homage to love and fado, a Portuguese musical genre that exhibits longing and loss.
Next, the program turns local with a new work choreographed by Miami’s Pioneer Winter and performed by dancer Marjorie Burnett. “Pioneer lifts Marjorie up out of a chair, and she never goes back,” Peterson says. A stage of ten-foot-tall mirrored panels “delivers a stunning retake of the whole idea of physicality,” she adds.
A collaboration between Portuguese dancer Juan Maria Sellar and Katrina Weaver from the Karen Peterson Dance Company follows. A video accompanies this piece to help retell the true story of a bride who disappeared shortly after her wedding. While Seller and his work are not well known in the States, he is regarded highly through much of Sub-Saharan Africa for using percussion to develop movement among children with polio.
The evening’s last piece, Identity, features the choreographers and dancers of all three companies. When it was performed in Lisbon in April, it received a standing ovation from an audience of 500.
Several pieces from this weekend’s performance are the result of the time Peterson and her dancers spent in Lisbon in April. “Each member’s sensibility, each one’s art palette was used. I am very proud of what we achieved," the choreographer says. "We wanted our companies to explore everything that emerged from our movement — both our commonalities and our differences physically, linguistically, geographically, politically. Nothing was off-limits, and therefore, we worked with no boundaries, no prejudices.”
This journey to Lisbon came after the Miami dance troupe spent time in Belgrade, Serbia, the previous year.
“Exchanges like these are essential for us to continue to develop our craft, let alone our understanding,” Peterson says. “There is perhaps no other art form more dependent on people connecting with each other. Its possibilities become endless, tantalizingly rich.
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“In both cities, we were welcomed with arms wide open,” she continues. “Sometimes we can feel a little isolated in South Florida... there is far less of a social investment in this kind of mixed-ability dance than one finds in Europe.”
Further European dance exchanges and collaborations are planned for next year, although the destination remains unknown.
— Elizabeth Hanly, artburstmiami.com
Miami/Lisbon Dance Exchange
Featuring the dance companies Amalgama, Plural, and Karen Peterson and Dancers. 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Miami-Dade County Auditorium's On Stage Black Box Theater (2901 W. Flagler St., Miami). Tickets cost $20 general for admission and $15 for students, seniors, and wheelchair users. Call 305-298-5879 or visit karenpetersondancers.org.