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Daniel Burkholder (pictured) has performed in some good-sized dance venues in this city: the Kennedy Center, Dance Place, Joy of Motion. But for the latest show of his improvisational movement/performance lab, the PlayGround, he wanted to downsize. “It’s the smallest stage you’ll ever see in [your] life,” Burkholder says of the platform at Takoma, D.C.’s, Sangha Fair Trade Marketplace, “but we enjoy the intimacy.” Staging innovative productions in small venues is part of the local improv-master’s plan to create dance “in the jazz mode.” His goal is to strip away pretense and view each performance as an old-school jam session. “It’s more in the jazz form—’We’ve got a show Saturday night; let’s gig.’ It’s not quite that causal, but the idea is ‘Let’s just gather and do it.’” Tonight, the troupe’s performance features five pieces—all of which are governed by general guidelines but give the dancers room to do their own things. The piece most likely to conjure up Birdland is Starting With Nothing. Going Nowhere: “All we know before we go on, stage is that one will start the piece as a solo, the other two will enter, we’ll dance for 12 minutes, and then [it’ll] end,” he says of the work. “It’s like a quartet sitting down and Miles Davis says ‘OK, here we go.’ They know each other, so they can make a song, but they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. The only difference is, jazz musicians don’t have to worry about being hit in the face.” The PlayGround gets down at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Sangha Fair Trade Marketplace, 117 Carroll St. NW. $10. (301) 589-7980. (Sarah Godfrey)