MIAMI (CBS4) – John Beauregard suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall many years ago. Bonnie Malcolm has brittle bones. James Salter has Down Syndrome. Guillermo Acosta has intellectual disabilities while Adam Eckstat was born with Spina Bifida. What do they have in common?
All are dancers in The Karen Peterson Dance Troupe, a company created 23 years ago.
“I love the collaborative spirit. They enjoy it too. Show me how you can do this and they’ll say I can’t do that, But Karen, I can do this. So, I’m constantly pushing their boundaries,” said Artistic Director and Founder Karen Peterson.
For the dancers, it’s life changing.
“I think of it as a transformation,” said Beauregard. “To get up and be paralyzed in bed and can’t move, and then to end up a few hours later thinking that I’m a dancer out on the dance floor, It’s amazing.”
“I always wanted to be a dancer, but being in a wheelchair it was like no way. Then, I discovered Karen’s dancers and I was like wow! It’s my dream come true,” said Bonnie.
Jenny Larrson has no physical handicaps and loves dancing with her partner John every day she can.
“For me it’s like flying, said Jenny. He offers me something that other dancers wouldn’t, so I love to dance here.”
Bonnie and Adam will be getting married next May. They dance weekly here at this warehouse dance studio in West Kendall.
“It does make you feel more capable then you think you are,” said Adam.
Guillermo and James are the interns, learning what they can do
“I’m so proud of myself,” said James.
This Saturday, It all pays off, when they perform before a live audience.
“My favorite place is on stage. Who would have thought it before? I’ve never dreamed of being on stage. For 11 years now I’ve been dancing and it’s my favorite place to be” said John.