STRIKING, HAUNTING, BEAUTIFUL—this is local dance company Hot Little Hands' latest show, ill-starred. The hour-long show currently running at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (under the direction of Suniti Dernovsek and David Stein) explores themes of authority, trust, and violence—and explores them well enough that the show will prove entertaining even to one unfamiliar with the world of contemporary dance.

Six women, all more than capable dancers, move through the sparse set, creating and destroying relationships with one another. The exclusion of individuals is a recurring motif, accomplished through the use of simple props like teacups and crowns, but the outcast inevitably finds her way back into the pack, only to help reject someone else; perhaps it is this portrayal of universal cruelty that makes the show so unnerving.

But even without trying to extract complicated themes, ill-starred is compelling simply for its stunning visuals. The dancers, costumed in flowing, pink-flesh-toned, vintage-y dresses, look downright spectral. The images and scenes they create evoke something dreamlike and timeless, and coupled with the bare-bones background music (often just empty beats and lingering tones, produced live by Ryan Bjorn Cross), it's like you're viewing a series of old photographs, ones that are inexplicably yet decidedly creepy. 

So did I understand it? Not entirely. But it left me thoughtful, stimulated, and disturbed. And I like that.