By Erin Simon
Kim Martinez, Out on a Limb Dance Company’s President and Artistic Director, asked me to curate our upcoming performance, Pickles & Jams. Pickles & Jams will be part of a split-bill performance with Crash Dance Productions, and will be staged at the Lab Theater on April 2nd and 4th. The week after I was asked to be the curator for the Out on a Limb portion of the show was one of the most enjoyable and inventive weeks I’ve had in a while. Whenever a frustrating situation arose, instead of sighing loudly and calculating how it would affect the rest of my day, I thought to myself, “how could this be a dance?” My time at the office or stuck in traffic was filled with ideas for movement, music and potential scenes—my favorite things to think about. Try it next time you get an exasperating email from someone at work or school, or the problem you thought you’d solved last week bubbles up in a new, vexing regeneration. Translating frustrating situations into movement allowed me to think differently about the wider impact that events we think of as “pickles” and “jams” have on the way we live our lives and interact with our community. The inherent comedy in many of these situations, often so hard to see as we experience them, suddenly became painfully obvious to me, but there were the more serious moments to consider too. After conversations and collaboration with the choreographers, we developed a show that highlights a few of the many conundrums we face on a day-to-day basis and hopefully gives us some distance from them. It is at this distance that we are given the opportunity to view adversity with a new perspective.
Dancers born and raised at Out on a Limb are perfect for this show. I grew up dancing at Limb, and then I studied modern dance and choreography at Gustavus Adolphus College. One of my dance professors often told us about a lighting designer she worked with once who said “it’s easy to work with dancers; they don’t use their faces so you don’t have to worry about lighting them.” My professor was appalled, and told us this story whenever she felt this lighting designer might have spoken any grain of truth. This could never be said of the dancers at Out on a Limb. Kim, Amber Keeley, Out on a Limb’s School Director, and the rest of the staff always emphasize conveying the emotion of a piece through dance and through facial expressions. Throughout the process of creating Pickles & Jams, it has been such fun to work with dancers who not only master movement but are also trained storytellers. From the very first rehearsal, they’ve made the stories that only existed in our heads come alive.
See Out on a Limb Dance Company perform Pickles & Jams alongside Crash Dance Productions performance of Reaching Daylight on April 2nd and 4th at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis. Maybe you’ll recognize a pickle or a jam you've found yourself in, or maybe you’ll think of something for us to include in our next show.