Baby Steps 

Starr Foster Dance Company takes on new challenges, like hypnotherapy, one at a time.

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It makes sense that a concert titled "Confessions" would consist of smaller-scale works, offered like little secrets, in the intimate confines of the Firehouse Theatre Project. But with five premieres, new music and a stronger core group of dancers, "Confessions" also represents a growth spurt for Starr Foster Dance Project.

Premieres in "Confessions" range from emotionally intense works such as "Hiding Exhalation" and "Songs of Sorrow" to witty takes on subjects like hypnotherapy in "Open Your Mouth" and housewives in "Kitchen Tango."

Choreographer/artistic director Starrene Foster describes "Hiding Exhalation" as "two gorgeous women helping each other along, remembering to breathe," while "Open Your Mouth," a quintet set to a remixed self-help hypnotherapy recording, Foster just calls "ridiculous."

The quartet "Songs of Sorrow," she says, came about in part because a man Foster didn't know mailed her a CD of his music. "Rarely do I start [a work] with music," she says, but when New York-based musician Mikael Karlsson found Foster on MySpace, Foster "was absolutely inspired by this CD he sent me."

In addition to Karlsson's music, Foster incorporated music from the Kentucky-based band Century of Aeroplanes (also a MySpace connection) into the new works "Shadowed" and "Hiding Exhalation," as well as an original score composed by company musical director Ryan Love for "Kitchen Tango."

"All of a sudden, all of this music fell into my lap," Foster says.

As for the dancing that all of this music accompanies, Foster says many of the works in "Confessions" include a lot of partnering that takes time to develop, and since everyone in the company has been with Foster for at least a year, "everybody gets it."

Usually when she walks into rehearsal, Foster has all the choreography for her dances worked out ahead of time and written down. Partnering, though, requires a certain amount of trial and error. She has ideas about it and perhaps a couple of drawings, and then works with the dancers to bring partnering sequences to life.

Staging "Confessions" at the Firehouse Theatre Project — the company's first performance there — will highlight the intimate details of Foster's new works.

"The dances are viewable up close," she says. "They almost call for the intimate space." None of the dances on this program runs longer than eight minutes, a refreshing change for Foster and the dancers after the large-scale production of "Alice," the evening-length interpretation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" last fall at the Grace Street Theater.

"Confessions," with five new dances and the return of two recent favorites, "Undone" and "Drowning," will doubtless conjure many situations, many feelings — including wonder, perhaps, and an appreciation of such prolific output.

"I've been kind of busy," says Foster, an obvious understatement. "It's felt like I've had a lot of different things to say." S

Starr Foster Dance Company presents "Confessions" at the Firehouse Theatre Project April 5-7 at 7 p.m., with an additional performance April 6 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 355-2001 or visit www.sdfproject.org.

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