Since it was founded in 1990, Karen Peterson and Dancers (KPD), under the dedicated direction of Founder Karen Peterson, has positioned itself as a role model for the dance and disability communities in Miami Dade County by providing educational programming for students with special needs and by providing inclusive rehearsal, performance and touring opportunities for adult professional dancers with diverse abilities. The only dance organization south of Georgia that has a committed history of providing dance workshops, lecture demonstrations, and performances for both the disability and dance communities. By advocating as a positive "can-do" role model, KPD has inspired thousands of audience members, teachers, therapists and special needs students interested in the physically integrated dance form.
KPD has received recognition for the company's creative, inclusive work once thought of as a niche for physical impairment but now understood to be a new explosive dance form on a worldwide platform. Since its formation, the company has presented an annual season of new ensemble work, performed by hundreds of dancers, and created by multiple choreographers, at many venues in So Florida.
Artistic Director Ms Peterson has won multiple awards for her choreographic vision, including a 2024 MIA (Miami Individual Award), a 2019 Boston Conservatory at Berklee Alumni Entrepreneurial Award for the presentation of "Warmamas" at the Judson Church in NYC, a 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, from the Mildred Levenson Foundation, and a 2022 Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music Alumni Achievement Awards for her “dedicated work in the field and contributions to society” in Boston. She has been a guest speaker and teacher at Dance/USA 2017 as well as atmany festival throughout the country.
The company received two Knight Foundation Awards and five NEA grants for The Forward Motion Festival 2018, 19, 21, 22, 24 is committed to presenting local, national, and international dance artists who practice inclusive dance on a professional level. KPD was named "Miami's Best Dance Company 2019" by the Miami New Times and was selected to be part of the "2019 Beyond Barriers, Boundaries & Belief national tour" funded by the NEA in Cleveland at the Allen Theatre, Brooklyn at the Mark Morris Space, and Miami at the Miai Light Box in Wynwood with Dancing Wheels, & Heidi Latsky Dance.
The fifth installment of the Forward Motion Festiva and Conference of Physically Integrated Dance wil takes place on March 23, 24, 2024 at the Miami Dade County Auditorium with The Spirit of the Goodwill Band and disabled dancers and choreogrpahers from across the country. KPD has been invited to be part of the prestigious KAIDA dance festival in Seoul, South Korea in August 2024.