Every once in a while, a local choreographer comes along who shatters the complacent run of things. Something about her work -- craft, wit, intelligence, a riveting perspective -- makes the viewer fall in love with dance again, the way a mesmerizing poem can reinvigorate one's sense of all poetry. Randee Paufve, who brings Paufve Dance to Dance Mission Theater this weekend, is such a choreographer. Toiling quietly in the East Bay for the last 14 years, she conveys that the body can speak to us if we'll just shut up and watch. But Paufve never panders to her audience. Her work retains a fierce sense of craft with a style both lyrical and tightly athletic.
On a recent Saturday, Paufve and her cast of 11 run smoothly through the upcoming concert, titled "In Exhale." One of two premieres, Enter the Room, opens the rehearsal and is performed by four dancers who enter and exit in various guises of femininity. Accompanied by 1950s lounge music, Enter becomes a witty theatrical deconstruction of women's roles -- Marilyn Monroe meets the Guerrilla Girls. "I'm an old feminist," Paufve explains later, laughing. "I have one of the earliest editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves."
Admission is $14-16
The year-old In Exhale, by contrast, displays Paufve's gifts as a pure dance choreographer. Because former Trisha Brown dancer Shelley Senter has to leave town after Saturday's performance, the troupe runs through Exhaletwice -- first with Senter, then with Rebecca Johnson, who dances it on Sunday. Senter is like a gleaming faucet through which unimpeded movement pours with angelic animalism. At every turn, the dance seems to spill from her body in a pure stream. Johnson, less polished but more theatrical and robustly passionate, invests each phrase with subtle drama. As the afternoon wears on, it becomes clear that what Senter and Johnson bring to the work is already present in its bones: pure-spun movement and theatrically sculpted emotion.