The name may be new, but Ground Zero Dance Company features some familiar faces. 

In Familiar Company

Though they've put no pink or blue stork at their front door nor tied any balloons to the mail box, there is a new kid on the block. Ground Zero Dance Company is the latest significant addition to Richmond's dance scene in the last several months. Though this modern dance company is new, the faces of its members are not. Pam England, Vicky Fink, Lea Marshall and Rob Petres have been in town for the last several years, dancing for, among others, Steve's Dance House Collective.

Ground Zero is, in fact, a reorganized Steve's House, albeit with a more cohesive vision and committed core. Marshall, dancer and administrator for the new company, says they want "to establish a steady presence in the community and a solid base to work from." Unique to Steve's House, which Petres co-founded, was its revolving members and administrative core; some artists participated in one show and then another crew took responsibility for the next. Intended to infuse the group with continuous creativity, the structure instead strained those most interested in seeing the company take off. Unlike Steve's House, which never incorporated (and is now defunct), Ground Zero has nonprofit status, allowing it to receive tax-deductible donations and carry out its ideals on a consistent basis. They intend to maintain a steady presence in the community and to showcase the work of a single choreographer for each show.

Aside from affording the members greater opportunities to dance, the mission of this recently formed company is to bring dance to people who may not typically attend concerts, "to reach and dialog with a wider audience," says Marshall. "Modern dance is a hard sell . ...Yet when [audiences] see it, they actually like it. They find out it's not intimidating, but enjoyable."

The upcoming premiere concert is the one exception to their single choreographer showcase rule. Several works by England, Petres and Fink will be featured in the two weekend shows, Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7 at Grace Street Theater. Fink will premiere her trio "Between Psyche and Eros," a blend of dance and video that portrays the separation and reconnection between these mythic figures, with music by Robbie Kinter.

After presenting his much-enjoyed "Rope" at Philadelphia's Fringe Festival a few weeks ago, Petres offers the trio version of his dramatic descent from the ceiling.

England will present three works, two with ritual elements, "Drought" and "Just Jump," and an as-yet-untitled group piece based on court dancing. The frenetic "Loop," choreographed by Petres and Ray Schwartz, is also included. The choreographers have also enlisted the help of dancers Audrey Black, Candice Ghent, Kathleen Legault, Tommy Parlon and Grady Smith.


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