Over the years, Erinn Liebhard often has chosen Twin Cities bars as places to show her choreography. Whether it was the Bedlam Lowertown space, Icehouse in Minneapolis or now the Amsterdam bar in St. Paul, the social venues provide a more relaxed atmosphere that works well with Liebhard's loose, easygoing style.
In the hourlong "Chill", which opened Saturday afternoon and shows for one more matinee, Liebhard's work feels cozy in the bar environment.
The downside of Amsterdam as a venue has to do with the stage itself.
It's a rather small space, though the dancers seem to have a bit more room than when Liebhard has performed at Icehouse. There are also a few moments where Liebhard has the dancers performing on the main floor where the audience is, rather than on the elevated stage, making it difficult to see the dancers very well.
Liebhard starts out with a sampling of jazz and vernacular dances she created as early as 2009 and as recently as this year. In "Eclipse So," the dancers glide across the stage like graceful spider monkeys swinging from tree to tree. They take on unusual shapes with their shoulders and hands, finding opportune moments to shimmy and jiggle. They look like they're having lots of fun.
Liebhard's oldest work of the program, "One Better," from 2009, takes the strongest point of view of the bunch. Dressed in plastic skirts with logos on them, the cast looks like they are wearing shopping bags.
They line up, all bending at the waist, as they rest their heads on the bottom of one another's backs, then flop around with high-energy goofiness.
The piece demonstrates the possibility in Liebhard's carefree approach for experimentation with message and theatricality.
The second half of the show features four pieces set to Vince Guaraldi's score for "A Charlie Brown Christmas," with the music performed by the local group GST.
Here the dancers, dressed in primary colors, are full of smiles and exhilaration as they move their bodies like pendulums, leap into twisting arabesques, skip and shift-ball-change to the music.
There were a few kids at the matinee Saturday, though it's not strictly speaking a children's show. The short length of the performance, the cheery attitude of performers and the familiar tunes of the "Charlie Brown" music make the event something you might consider bringing your kids to come see, knowing there isn't a narrative to hold their attention.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis arts writer.