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Starr Foster keeps the Richmond dance community on its toes with a new modern dance company.

Modern Movement

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A new modern dance company arrived in Richmond last month with the premiere of the Starr Foster Dance Project at Artspace. Its first show featured nearly a dozen choreographers from around the state and succeeded in displaying a wide range of talent — from Bill Dufford's character-based work to Robbie Kinter's assemblage of performers ricocheting off the wall, to Foster's own frenetic dance.

With another concert planned later this month in Charlottesville and one in May at the Grace Street Theatre, company director Starr Foster is producing shows with the same high energy that is apparent in her choreography.

Although the company is newly incorporated, Foster is no newcomer to dance, nor to Richmond audiences. Foster graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University's dance and choreography department in 1996. Since then, she's received three full scholarships from the American Dance Festival, has worked with artists such as Ron Brown and Mark Haim, and has performed frequently at Artspace. After taking a year off from dancing to devote herself exclusively to motherhood, Foster established the Starr Foster Dance Project, not only to show her own works but to support the work of other dancers and choreographers.

"Everyone wants an outlet to do what they specialize in," Foster says. "I wanted to provide that opportunity."

With VCU in Richmond's backyard, it's not uncommon for many eager dance students to show their work to an audience outside the university's wall. What often happens once those students graduate, though, is that few stick around. Many leave for a city that offers greater financial support to dancers than Richmond does. Foster, however, has no plans to leave. She's decided to raise her family here while teaching at St. Christopher's.

"Here is where I'm going to stay," she says, and adds without hesitating, "Richmond needs dance."

Setting up her new dance company as a nonprofit organization has been pivotal to helping Foster achieve her goals and also gives her work greater legitimacy. "People take you seriously when you go through this process," she says. Incorporating enables her to apply for grants and to receive tax-deductible donations. Past experiences and fellow dancers have convinced her that few dance companies live on ticket sales alone.

So far, Foster has been pleased by the support she has received and is particularly grateful to Artspace, which has commissioned several new works for their performance series. She's also appreciative of the many people who have volunteered their time and skills. "I've established a good audience from past shows," she acknowledges.

Aside from the upcoming concerts and ongoing teaching, Foster also plans to bring in guest artists and to set up a summer dance camp. Does this choreographer/dancer/producer/teacher/mother think she's overdoing it? Not at all. "I'm so willing," she says. "It'll keep me on my toes."

Whether Foster is on her toes or rolling swiftly across the floor, she will certainly be surrounded by fellow dancers and a growing

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