Onstage Rush Hour 

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Heroin(e)" is a different kind of modern dance piece, even for the Starr Foster Dance Project. Foster uses flailing, squirming, primping, coughing, dialogue, projected video and even Neil Diamond to explore the parallels between drug enthusiasts and beauty pageant enthusiasts.

"It's a women's piece," she says. "It's about how the pressures that we have as women are just as detrimental as drug use. As women we have such incredible pressures to be beautiful," Foster says of the work, which premiered two years ago.

The piece requires 15 extra dancers in addition to the six-dancer company. As an ensemble, they get only three one-and-a-half-hour rehearsals to learn and perfect the 25-minute piece.

The sheer number of dancers in the space at a recent rehearsal is impressive and requires a lot of stopping and starting to fix logistical problems.

"There are a lot of spacing issues that you don't really know are going to exist until you actually have 20 humans in one little space -- people are getting kicked," Foster says. But when it all comes together and everyone is moving in sync on the right counts with the music, the effect is powerful. "I love all these layers," Foster shouts as the ensemble moves in a mesmerizing canon.

For this performance, the company will also be presenting one piece that premiered in Richmond in 2006, "Songs of Sorrow," and two premieres, "Sharing Small Spaces" and "Talking With Ghosts."

Opening the show is "Sharing Small Spaces," an intense and beautiful quintet. The dancers' bottom halves are grounded, while their upper bodies arch backward, their chests reaching up toward the heavens. Acrobatic lifts and repeated small hand motions complete the work.

"It's turned out quite nice. We're all pretty happy with that one," Foster says.

For "Talking With Ghosts," Foster herself returns to the stage after a two-year hiatus. The piece is a duet with company member Jordan Livermon. The work represents a journey to the past — an exploration of the magical places you can visit in your imagination. S

The Starr Foster Dance Project presents "Talking With Ghosts" at Grace Street Theater Oct. 4-6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 828-2020 or visit www.sfdproject.org.

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