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Odd-Lab brings the heat

Odd-Lab brings the heat
Photo courtesy of Odd-Lab Facebook

Odd-Lab is an experimental place, where innovative props and choreographies are created, and where odd people reside. For seven years, Odd-Lab has taken fire as a dance partner and together they’ve captivated and astonished audiences across the Southwest.

When Georgina Armendariz, Jesse James and C.J. founded Odd-Lab in late 2010, they were hoping to create a professional fire troupe. Now the troupe consists of a dozen performers and their shows have taken them to Los Angeles, Malibu and Albuquerque. Odd-Lab has turned athleticism, artistry and prop manipulation into coveted entertainment.

In their performances, the flame is inches away from their faces, but it is the fascination with fire that feeds their business. Audiences are hardly interested in the LED shows that they also provide because no one cares about a light bulb breaking.

“It’s kind of like NASCAR. You’re watching because you think something might go wrong and maybe you’re secretly hoping that something might go wrong,” Armendariz said.

Fear, curiosity and awe are the emotions that jostle through the audience. Armendariz claims that both children and adults admire the extravagance, but one admires it more than the other.

“The kid audience is fascination and curiosity, the adult audience is generally fascination and maybe a little bit frightened for our safety,” she said. 

While the spectators may gaze at the flames in awe, it is the adrenaline that pushes Odd-Lab performers into risking their skin for their art. Armendariz believes that what she does with fire heightens her senses and everything else goes out of her head.

“I feel like every time I start a new choreography, I’m starting all over again, I feel like it’s day one of me interacting with fire,” Armendariz said.

Not only does Odd Lab bring the heat close to the audience, but they also do it with extreme caution. Odd-Lab has had zero incidents in their seven years. This is due to their strict safety precautions such as setting a perimeter around the audience, having security to keep the audience outside of the perimeter and double checking that their equipment is functional.

“We started this group with safety measures and we’ve only been increasing them every time,” Armendariz said.   

Odd-Lab has performed at Chalk the Block, Pride Fest, Kidspalooza, the Las Cruces Farmers Market, the Renaissance Fair and the Neon Paint Party. Aside from festivals, they also work private events such as parties.

The performance in both events differs in the scale of the production that is presented. Party shows may run from 20 to 30 minutes with a basic, but still astounding, display of fire manipulation. Festivals are where Odd-Lab brings quality productions with themes and stories.

Fire rushes the artists of Odd Lab with adrenaline as they twirl, spin, toss and swallow it. There isn’t a lack of an audience in the entertainment business especially when there is a hazardous factor in the show.

“Everyone has a fascination for fire, it’s a natural element that all humans are attracted to,” Armendariz said. 

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Odd-Lab brings the heat