It’s like flicking on a light switch, co-creator and co-director of “Confessions of a Love Junkie” Zheila Pouraghabagher said. Once the shine circle is complete, she’s ready to perform; it’s go time.
In two weeks, San Luis Obispo sees the return of “Confessions of a Love Junkie” at Alex and Faye Spanos Theater on Aug. 17 and 18. “Confessions,” a dance show presented by CORE Dance Company, tells the story of a therapist specializing in love addiction and her four clients: “The Good Girl,” “The Player,” “The Couple” and the “Fresh Out-Of-The-Closet” young man.
Pouraghabagher’s favorite part of the performance is actually right before they go on stage. She and the other dancers form what they call a “shine circle,” where they hold hands and give each other motivating and inspiring energy, she said. Then they shout “Shine” really loudly, she said.
“Confessions” birthplace is actually Kreuzberg, CA, Pouraghabagher said. She and co-creator and “script guru” Susan Miller were sitting at the coffee house when Pouraghabagher said she wanted to write a show about love. Miller has always used the phrase “love junkie” to describe her own issues, she said. Six hours later, “Confessions” was born.
“It just flowed out of us,” Miller said. Aside from championing the play, Miller earned five regional Emmys for choreographing weekly music videos on a television show called “Evening Magazine.”
Pouraghabagher drew inspiration for “Confessions” from her background; she graduated from Cal Poly in 2003 with a degree in psychology and received her masters in education counseling and guidance. Also, she’s been a life coach for about 10 years. “Confessions” shows what happens in the therapist’s office behind closed doors — an idea that she said has always been intriguing to her and Miller.
“You never know what the therapist is really thinking,” Pouraghabagher said. “With ‘Confessions’ you get that transparency.”
“Confessions” contains both dancing and acting, Pouraghabagher said. The show begins with an opening dance number, but all the client’s visits to the therapist’s office are dialogues and last a few minutes. Right after the session, other dancers join the client and therapist and perform a dance number. Pouraghabagher said the audience sees each character four times throughout the show, and the show is broken down into scene, dance, scene, dance and so forth.
“Confessions” features many genres of dancing, ranging from jazz to contemporary. The music is also contemporary, featuring songs from Adele, Britney Spears and Def Leppard. Some dances are fun and energetic, while others, like the scene with the “Married Couple,” are so emotional dancer and alumna Sherry Shahan said she cries every time.
“These dancers tell stories through their expressions, not just their movements,” Shahan said. “You see their hearts in their faces.”
The dancers of “Confessions” are all professionals in other fields with careers such as teachers, businesspeople and mechanics, Miller said. Their ages range 17 to 45. Six of the dancers are Cal Poly alumni.
“With this kind of show, with adults who’re all working professionals, it’s so rare to have something like this in our small community; we don’t take it for granted,” Pouraghabagher said.
Though the show is a re-mount of the original performance, the new show has a few changes, Miller said. Half the cast is new, along with new dances and scenes, Miller said. She said some of the jokes were also new, along with new twists in the character’s plotlines.
Dancing in “Confessions” is really a lot of fun, Cal Poly alumna and dancer Sherry Wright said. With groups like this, egos can be involved and there can be competition over who gets the most spotlight, Wright said. Yet what struck Wright about this particular group of people, she said, is everyone’s ego is in check.
“It’s a really supportive and friendly group without the cliques and being competitive,” Wright said.
Last year, “Confessions” was held at “The Spot” in Arroyo Grande with only 500 tickets to sell. Pouraghabagher said all the tickets sold out and more people wanted to come, claiming they’d do whatever for seats, including paying double or standing throughout the show. Pouraghabagher said she thought, since “Confessions” already had a fan base, why not do the show again at a larger venue?
Tickets for the show went on sale June 1. So far, Pouraghabagher said they’ve sold approximately 800 tickets, which is a little more than half for all three shows.
“We anticipate we will sell out,” Pouraghabagher said.
Miller said those who see the show walk out knowing who they are as human beings a little better. They’ll understand the twisted part of human nature, how we want what we don’t have and laugh at their own flaws, Miller said.
“They’ll be truly moved, from gut to heart,” Miller said.
“Confessions” plays at Alex and Faye Spanos Theater with three shows, Aug. 17th at 7 p.m. and Aug 18th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The student sections are priced at $20 and the premium seats are priced at $30. “Confessions” is recommended for those over 16, Miller said.