Saturday, October 12, 2013


Paufve | dance
Hillside Swedenborgian Community Church, El Cerrito
October 11th, 2013

“Soil”, the newest performance piece from Paufve | dance, is both a treasure and triumph for the modern genre. An hour-long event danced by Randee Paufve, “Soil” brings five solos (some premieres; some past works) by four different choreographers: Kate Weare, Gregg Bielemeier, Della Davidson and Paufve herself.

Set in a gorgeous building high atop a hill, the ‘mobile’ piece inhabits different parts of a single room. The first solo, Paufve’s “Laying Ground” (2008), unfolded in front of large bay windows just as the sun was setting. A moment of closure meeting an instant of beginning, accompanied by an earthy cello score. From there Paufve journeyed to the center of the space for the premiere of Kate Weare’s “Erie Lackawana”. Every movement of this solo variation had a tactile presence – whether small flutters in the hand or lengthy arabesque poses, Paufve seemed to be truly ‘touching’ the space around her, as opposed to creating shapes within that space. It may be somewhat of a buzz word in modern dance today but “Erie Lackawana” had a very real sense of organic-ness.

Photo: Pak Han
Solo #3, the premiere of Gregg Bielemeier’s “…it’s kind of a secret but she screams like a girl…” was a stand-out hit. Like all good dance theater, this vignette had comedy, absurdity and a strong technical foundation. It began with a scene of Paufve getting into character, almost like watching her prepare backstage in a dressing room. She put on her costume, did her make-up and donned a short blond wig, transforming into a wonderful combination of the real-life Chloe Sevigny and the fictitious Carmela Soprano. Medium-sized bouncy balls were scattered around the floor, getting kicked and swatted as Paufve cycled through the fun, yet sound choreography. “…it’s kind of a secret but she screams like a girl…” concluded with a hilarious set of personal reflections as Paufve (outside) used a set of window panes as her own personal mirrors.

1991’s “Flying Over Emptiness” (choreography by Della Davidson) took the fourth spot on the program, with a hefty injection of drama and expansive movement. A particularly compelling wing motif suggested the pure essence of breath, further emphasized by the wind soundscore. And as the solo closed, it had descended into a tortured, gnarled web. The final dance of the evening was the premiere of Paufve’s “Endless Mountain”, a piece that exuded primitive strength. Reflecting the vast choreographic spectrum that is Paufve’s work, “Endless Mountain” deliciously toggled between the introspective and the inclusive. The live musical accompaniment didn’t quite have the same breadth, instead remaining in an atonal, avant-garde, improvisational space for the duration.  

An hour of solo performance is no joke, and as one might expect, there had to be slight pauses between the segments for costume changes, setting up the next space and of course, a break! These transitions can be very tricky, and here, were handled brilliantly – there was no ‘stop and go’ feeling. Rather, there was great attention to maintaining the flow of the performance during those in between spaces.

However wonderful the choreography and the dancing, “Soil” did have one issue that came up a couple of time – a disconnect between the movement and the music. Of course, it is extremely common in contemporary performance for the score and the choreography to be different, sometimes even at odds with each other. But there is divergence and then there is distraction. In the second and fifth solos, the latter was true; at times, the music was actually distracting from what was happening on stage.  

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