“That Obscure Subject of Desire”

“That Obscure Subject of Desire”

“That Obscure Subject of Desire”

New Dances by Randee Paufve

July 24-26, 2009
Dance Mission Theater
San Francisco


Almost all the ten dancers in the recent Paufve concert are involved with the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, Berkeley, including its founder, Frank Shawl. The event itself was sponsored by Shawl-Anderson and most of the cast study, teach or perform there. Thus it was an appreciative “family reunion” on Sunday, July 26 when the audience gathered at Dance Mission, SF for Paufve’s exploration of “desire.” For her, desire is a movement landscape, and it was well illustrated in nine parts, one of which, “Spasm” had eleven episodes.

Paufve’s movement vocabulary is an exotic mix of large locomotion, swings and leaps, juxtaposed with quick, quirky hand gestures directed at the audience. Fueled with these energy changes, the audience gets a ‘hot-to-cool’ message.  Pauve is a superb dancer; her solo “Pilgrim” set the evening’s invitation for the audience to be in the center of the “space of desire.”

Other beautiful solos were offered by Jill Randall who started the program with “Incantation” a free wheeling circle of the stage and “Last” a profound a serious lyric dance that led to the finale. Jill is gracious in all she does. Although Paufve called her centerpiece “Duet, ” she performed it as a solo; the invitation to join her offered to the imagination. A notable duet was given by Brian Runstrom and Christy Thomas. They, if anyone, were the “Romeo and Juliet” of “desire,” young dancers who rolled, played, fought and flirted with freedom and pleasure. Among the dancers in “Spasm” were Stephanie Ballas, Rebecca Johnson, Katie Kruger and Jane Schnorrenberg, all technically and expressively vital, though sometimes more technical than need be. Nevertheless, there was much play and frolicking among the group.

Diane McKallip and Frank Shawl danced the most beautiful duet.
Clearly senior to the other performers, McKallip and Shawl “took care” of one another in the slow, careful circles, the moments on the floor, the gentle movements back to back. At the very end, Shawl dropped his shirt and McKallip picks it up. “Just as if she’s taking it to the laundry,” said a friend.

A long length of red ribbon united the dancers in some of the large group ensemble sections. Does it represent the “heartstring” of the piece? Paufve left it to the audience to imagine “desire” in its many possibilities, even at the very end when Christy Thomas gleefully crawled over everyone’s back.

Music for the work was by a variety of ‘canned’ composers; Bjork, Marianne Faithfull, Chas Smith, David Mahler, Milton DeLugg, and Willie Stein. The
numbers followed rather than led the dances. Lighting was by
Gabe Maxson, Costumes by Rachel Stone, Alterations by Katie Kruger and Soundddd by Heather Heise. Congratulations to them all. The buzz at Shawl-Anderson the next day was for many repetitions of the show to come.

Joanna G. Harris, PhD

Mr. Simpson has a BA in Journalism from the University of Southern California and worked as an advertising writer in Los Angeles before moving to New York to pursue a different passion: dance. He danced professionally in New York and Boston before founding a community-based modern dance company, Small City Dance Project, in Newburyport, MA. His fiction has appeared in literary journals and anthologies. He was a teaching fellow at Smith College, where he received his MFA in choreography. While living in the Bay Area for 15 years, he wrote about dance for the San Francisco Chronicle and other periodicals. In 2005, he was a NEA Fellow at the Dance Critics Institute, American Dance Festival. For culturevulture.net, he reviews dance, theatre and film. He moved to Santa Fe in October, 2008. He writes for "Pasatiempo," the Arts magazine of the "Santa Fe New Mexican."