Special/Signature Issues » The Arts 25

Dance Party

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Christina Fitch and Jessica Fulbright turned a proverbial "great idea over drinks" into something viable, introducing XF Company of Dance into the Richmond dance scene this year.

XF's straightforward concept, "dance is fun," generated three nights of sold-out performances in June, proving that the company's already embraced by the public in a meaningful (i.e., solvent) way.

The innovative mix of dance styles includes ballet and jazz, sure, but also hip-hop and modern, along with movement as uncomplicated as skipping. So much positive energy surrounds this troupe that it's already grown from nine to 21 members, many of them with little dance experience.

The Fitch/Fulbright partnership mixes business acumen with creative talent and a "leap of faith" strategy to accomplish the company's goals.

Fitch runs the hip-hop department at Regency Dance Academy; under her leadership, the department has quadrupled in size. As a choreographer, she works to refine the distinctive dance styles that define XF, the kind of movements that had audiences at the June show noticeably more raucous than a more formal troupe.

Fulbright is an actress/marketer/business manager, a charter member of the young professionals group OPUS and business manager for the Firehouse Theatre Project. In February she produced, directed and acted in "The Vagina Monologues," part of Eve Ensler's worldwide V-Day 2007 project, and donated proceeds to the Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter. She'll be dancing in XF's next show, "The Disconnect," at the Firehouse in December.

Each piece in that new show is choreographed to almost fight the music or costumes that oppose the mood of a dance piece. "Some of the 'disconnects' will be obvious, but some will be very subtle," Fitch says. "Like sassy jazz choreography to Tom Waits' 'How's it Gonna End.'"

Performing in other venues and touring are the next steps for the company, Fulbright says. It's also in the initial planning stages for an intercompany celebration of dance to be called "Richmond Dance Party."

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