The Starr Foster Dance Project (photo by Doug Hayes)
Dancers are not deterred by rain.
Starr Foster, director of her own dance company, is also an inveterate reader whose program tonight and continuing this weekend combines her interests. Since the program is indoors, and Joaquin is a no-show, you can see her troupe perform the "Page To Stage” dance series at the Grace Street Theater, 934 W. Grace St., tonight and Saturday (Oct. 2 and 3) at 8 p.m. and Sunday (Oct. 4) at 2 p.m.
“I love fiction, and it’s pretty much what I read,” Foster says. “I thought it would be cool to make dances from other people’s stories.” She researched the subject and found that theater groups have held these kinds of events, but not dance companies. To narrow the wide possibilities, Foster earlier this year invited writers of flash fiction to submit extremely short pieces that would lend themselves to choreographic interpretation. She used social media to get the word out and seek submissions.
“We received 45 entries, many from Virginia, and from California, Texas,” Foster says. “Then we divided into two groups of readers, friends and people who would help me, so I’m not drowning in sudden fiction short stories. [We] got it down to 20 that we pared down to seven. The dancers read every story. We made selections based on the practicality of programming — basically, 'Can we stage this and do it justice?' ”
Rather than a standard program, the stories are printed in a small book, paid for by $6,000 raised through a Hatchfund campaign, similar to Kickstarter, but with specific application to nonprofits and arts organizations. The funds raised went not only to the books but covered rentals and costumes. There are 20 dancers involved in the project. You can see the pitch here.
One of the stories, The Snow Angel by Starlet Knight, involves a girl who is obsessed with a Hollywood Cemetery angel. That piece was made into a dance film shot by Matt Polson using backdrops of the cemetery and St. Andrew’s Church, a gothic structure in Oregon Hill.
Mary Lou Hall’s River involves a woman attacked by an armed man near the James River. Tilling The Soil by Georgian Jed Brody pertains to a journey of a man on a Russian island who’s made terrible decisions, and then he comes across the opportunity to reverse time. Joanna Wolford’s Borrowed Time focuses on a distraught man in a bathroom trying to make a life-altering decision. Richmonder Cheryl Pallant’s On Second Thought is explosive: An aircraft in mid-flight cracks up and a woman making her descent thinks about her life — and where she wants to land. Richmond actor, writer and historian Dean Knight’s The Thing with the Strapped Face is a horror story, “And more than a little creepy,” Foster says. “There’s a young boy who can’t separate dream from reality.” Make Believe, by Danny Diaz, involves a woman who identifies as a man contemplating suicide while on a dock.
Company dancer Katie Branca, a copywriter, also contributed. Foster made half a dance that Branca then created a story for, and Foster completed the piece through movement.
“By the way, look for Richmond magazine used as a prop in one of the dances,” Foster says. (Foster was recognized in 2006 with the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts (dance category), and "Page" contributor Pallant for writing in 2013).
“It’s been great for me,” Foster says. “Challenging and a lot of fun, from reading the stories to bringing them to life through rehearsal.”
Tickets are $20. Don't forget your umbrella on the way out.