At least once a year I take a dance holiday down to the Bay Area in California where I am originally from and take as many dance classes as I can and catch a performance or two. It is my chance to recharge and connect to a larger pool of dance ideas and styles.
This year the timing of my desire to break from routine and get out of town coincided with the Super Bowl and with the performance of “Strangers Become Flowers” by long-time Bay Area choreographer and former Portland resident Randee Paufve.
Five years ago I danced for Paufve when she brought her piece “So I Married Abraham Lincoln” to Portland and merged her Bay Area dancers with a group of Portland dancers for the performance at Conduit. For me this experience was like finally finding “home” after wandering for 20 years—I left my hometown of Berkeley in 1992 for ballet school on the East Coast and I haven’t lived on the West Coast since—until I moved to Portland five years ago. Paufve encapsulates all that is familiar to me of the Berkeley that I grew up in and the dance lineage that I trained in.
Last weekend my friend and dance collaborator Celine Bouly and I flew to Oakland, braved the BART trains and the Super Bowl crowds, took some sweaty crazy dance classes, hung out in Mission Dolores Park in the sunshine, ate phenomenal brick-oven pizza at my friend Anthony Mangieri’s pizza shop, Una Pizza Napoletana and went to ODC Dance Commons (Oberlin Dance Collective) to see Paufve’s new creation. The day was a feast to end all feasts.
Kate Mattingly interviewed Paufve and her dancers for Dancers’ Group, a San Francisco Bay Area service organization that promotes the visibility and viability of dance. The interview came out online and also in their newspaper publication called In Dance that is published ten times a year.
This organization is similar to what Emily Running is doing with Dance Wire here in Portland.
Mattingly writes at the top of the interview, “Strangers Become Flowers invites us to notice how communities are formed, how an instant intimacy can emerge with total strangers, how we foster relationships, and how we find place in people. In many ways the creation of this production shapes and reflects its own topics. The dancers talked about the significance of trust and respect, elements that become especially important in times of precarity and displacement. Trust and respect are also through-lines of Paufve’s teaching, choreography, and performances, qualities that make her a valued and vital part of the Bay Area dance landscape.”
“Strangers Become Flowers” performed by the the incredibly talented Rogelio Lopez, Elizabeth Randall, Andrew Merrell, Juliana Monin, Nadia Oka, and Mechelle Tunstall was still and quiet, yet full and rich. The movement was smooth and seamless, precise and exacting-nothing superfluous. The hand gestures in the choreography were like a secret coded language that added flourish and deeper meaning to the movement. Through each dancer’s solos and duets and trios it seemed to say that being alone was magical and equal to being together. It was an absolutely gorgeous performance that sinks deeper into my psyche every day.
It is my hope that Paufve will bring “Strangers Become Flowers” to Portland and that you all may experience this lushness for yourselves.
This week’s performance
Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
The skinner/kirk Dance Ensemble directed by long time BodyVox dancers Erik Skinner and Daniel Kirk along with dancers Mari Kai Juras, Holly Shaw, Brent Luebbert and Vanessa Thiessen as well as Skinner and Kirk, will present four new works thematically exploring the complexities of relationships and the diverse and personal interpretations of what church means to each of us.
The soundscore for “Church” created by composer Tim Ribner will feature an array of sounds including interviews, recordings in French cathedrals and live vocals by Lindsey Stormo.
The duo skinner/kirk have been making work together since 1998 developing dances rooted in classical ballet but deeply informed by their decades of performing with modern and contemporary choreographers.
Dance 2016: Faculty Dance Concert
The University of Oregon’s Department of Dance
Dougherty Dance Theatre, Gerlinger Annex, 1484 University St., Eugene
This years annual faculty concert will feature “Song of the Woman,” a 1983 solo choreographed by modern dance pioneer Bella Lewitzky performed by former Lewitzky dancer Amy Ernst, presented by Associate Professor Walter Kennedy.
The dance is set to an original score by Larry Attaway, and will be performed live by University of Oregon music faculty and students.
Additional faculty pieces to be performed will include works by Rita Honka, Shannon Mockli and Brad Garner with a new piece by MFA candidates Bryant Henderson and Lindsey Salfran.
Coming up later this month
February 18, Screening of A Ballerina’s Tale with special guests, Oregon Ballet Theater’s Artistic Director Kevin Irving and Company Artist Jordan Kindell.
February 19-20, Cabaret Boris & Natasha
February 25, Visiting dance scholar Dr. Christina Rosa will present a public lecture: “Regarding the New Wave of African American Choreographers and Their Gesture of Interweaving.”
February 25-28, Edge Effects, Tere Mathern
Feb 26-27, Performance Works NorthWest, Alembic Co-Production Series, presents “GHOSTS” by Asaf Aharonson & Ruairí Donovan (Berlin) and “Snake Talk” by Abby Crain, Maryanna Lachman and Mara Poliak (Oakland).
Feb 27-March 5, Romeo and Juliet, Oregon Ballet Theatre