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Co-founder Rob Petres stars in Steve's House Dance Collective's next offering

A Step to Center Stage


As hard as it is for a dance company to remain afloat, Steve's House Dance Collective manages to do just that.

Vision and leadership may rotate with each concert, a revolving door, but that's what the collective originally intended. The company established itself not on one person nor a single aesthetic or medium. From the beginning, sculpture and poetry, artists either passing through town and those residing here were all welcomed. In the next concert of all dance, "Transgressions," Nov. 11-13 at Grace Street Theater, co-founder Rob Petres steps to the foreground as choreographer, dancer, and producer. The program offers a revival and expansion of his moving "Rope" and a group piece, "Mixed Images."

This show marks the first occasion since the collective's founding in 1992 that features a single choreographer.

While many members have enjoyed brief stays in the collective, lasting anywhere from one show to a few years, Petres remains the one constant member — as dancer, choreographer, lighting technician and more. It's a wonder he hasn't taken the stage for himself sooner.

"Mixed Images" consists of a series of dances, a collage whose unifying theme is left up to the audience. Petres regards it as a slide show, with "a series of sharp cuts." He wanted to move away from a more traditional approach to dance, with its emphasis on exploring an idea "to see where it goes." His intention was not to dictate a specific vision, but to present several discrete sections as "pure and undeveloped."

With eight dancers altogether, pieces include solos by returning co-founder Ray Schwartz who slithers with reptilian grace. Pam England, Lea Marshall and Kathleen LeGault offer a delicate trio celebrating femininity. Another trio offers a somewhat solemn ritual with candles. Yet another group charges the stage with twists and leaps. Performing also are Ruth Feinblum, Starrene Foster and Neil Palik.

One piece after another offers a new image and a different mood, with music by Lisa Gerard and Peer Bourke, Kronos Quartet, Nine Inch Nails and John Williams. Circles appear as recurring motion. As varied as the music and the dances are, dress provides the only obvious link between pieces — barely. Clothing is minimal.

Petres has performed his solo " Rope" several times before. The choreography is simple yet effective, the motion of the rope echoed in his body. In the previous version, Petres descends from the ceiling like a mountaineer scaling a rock side, his body suspended. He slides down, spirals with the rope. He grabs his tethered partner as it twists and swings. He dangles with it, its weight and momentum determining how quickly he spirals or stops. This week's show expands "Rope," this latest version including three aerial dancers descending from above, creating a trio of ropes and their partners.

The appeal of Steve's House rests in the difference between each program and the element of surprise. This concert features Petres' vision.

The next concert? Well, that depends on who walks through the

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