Randy Paufvé

September 6, 2000

Randee Paufvé as a woman in movement meditation.
Photo by Blaine Covert courtesy Randee Paufvé

Randee Paufvé

Echo Theatre
Portland, Oregon

September 6?9, 2000

Reviewed by Martha Ullman West

In this era of high-speed, high-tech emotional disengagement, there is something curiously old-fashioned about Randee Paufvé?s dances, although they are neither quaint nor period pieces. “Rend: A Concert of New Dance presents five works, one of them by guest choreographer Michael Barber, that carry a narrative thread spun by the artists, reminding us that modernism began with the individual artist as chief protagonist and principal practitioner. All of them?and especially Paufvé?s opening and closing solos?suggest that humans are vulnerable.

Notes on Citizenship
is about the mind-boggling crush Paufvé had on Richard Nixon when she was a sixth-grader. In striped bell-bottom pants, accompanied by voiceovers of Nixon and herself, Paufvé employs her highly extended limbs in movement reminiscent of the gawky former president. The piece is bemused, tender and funny, the dancing evocative not only of the disgraced president?s choppy gestures but also of the coltishness of adolescent girls.

In Solo from Suite Incomplete we see Paufvé as a grown woman in a movement meditation on at-loose-ends-boredom. Choreographed shortly after Paufvé?s relocation two years ago from San Francisco to Portland, the piece is also funny, as, in a highly unbecoming, truly ugly turquoise jumpsuit, her back turned to the audience, Paufvé, with considerable musicality, executes generous, swooping movement, ennui projected in every muscle.

These solos bracket an evening that included Paufvé?s BloodTongueSeverTatterRend, a quintet danced to music by Dmitri Shostakovich and inspired by a poem by San Francisco Bay Area poet Beth Murray, whose words the audience does not hear. The highly physical movement, accompanied by heavy, labored breathing as well as the passionately dissonant score, proclaims the work to be a serious modern dance reaction to the violent times in which we live. Five left legs extended in unison suggest that safety is derived from sticking together; a duet with seemingly interchangeable limbs equally expresses the need for mutual support. Blood, like the concert itself, is beautifully crafted, Paufvé pulling gorgeous performances from the dancers, especially Sophie Frost, but it?s overlong, the point driven into the ground.

a trio performed by Paufvé, Barber and Jenn Gierada, a compellingly smooth dancer whose curly red hair makes her look like a flickering flame, is tighter, with gender-bending partnering and a whirling, spreading movement that is quite different from the quintet. Barber?s own solo, Traveling Mercies, offers a complete change of pace and mood, as this sublimely witty tragi-comic performer jitters and tromps and contorts his body in punctuated, accented dancing that is completely in the moment, totally of its time.

As it invariably does, lighting by Jeff Forbes contributed to a satisfying evening.