“She always makes the first move.” “He helped me turn my story into movement.” Pioneer Winter and Marjorie Burnett crossed paths by coincidence and inspired each other to create their stereotype-crushing performance, Gimp Gait. They have bonded over their love for performing and the desire to diversify Miami’s small dance community.
At first, Pioneer and Marjorie talked about how nervous they felt working with each other. Marjorie shares “[Pioneer] was ‘out there.’ But that made me interested in him. He was new and unique and that pulled me in.” Although this wasn’t Pioneer’s first time working with someone of a different ability, it was his first time choreographing a concert dance work on someone with a disability. It was also different for Marjorie. She had always been a performer but together, they take her role on stage to a new level despite her living with cerebral palsy.
“I had performed before but I had never walked on stage. I had never been out of a wheelchair ever before Gimp Gait,” says Marjorie. In their collaboration, Pioneer and Marjorie wanted to make sure they created something that would help Marjorie showcase her own individual power. Something that would tell her personal story.
Bringing Marjorie out of her wheelchair and enabling her to perform her own power in her own way guided them through their practice. It wasn’t easy, and it forced them miles out of their comfort zone. When they dance together, they both float across the stage, fly and fall, twist and turn, and ultimately tell a story of humanity. Their partnership and the success of their art together is a reminder that we all can do so much more when we break out of our comfort zones and create together.
There is a beauty in vulnerability and humanness displayed through performance that is mirrored in meeting people who are different than you. Pioneer advises that in breaking out of our shells and opening up to others “there will be a lot of things you won’t understand.” You learn to expose yourself and you grow comfortable with asking even stupid questions rather than imposing answers. Having a genuine interest in other people’s lives rather than assuming their struggles and learning to embrace the awkwardness are this duo’s tips for building new connections. When you take the time to get to know others, you find that people aren’t very different after all.
Pioneer and Marjorie remind us that courage is more than showcasing your strengths – courage is connecting in the moments that make us the most vulnerable.