Paula Present, a native Angelino, received her BA in Dance and BS in Biology from UCSD. Making dance professionally since 1995, she started working under the name PTERO Dance Theatre from April 2004 -2015, as its artistic director, dancer, and choreographer and was an award winning, critically acclaimed dance company. She has choreographed for Curb Your Enthusiasm. Music videos for the band Fanfarlo (Harold T Wilkins) and was an assistant choreographer with JoAnn Jansen for the band, Beirut (Elephant Gun). Paula also choreographed for the documentary, Bombay Beach, winner for Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival 2011.
Paula had the opportunity to choreograph for Culture Clash in their critically acclaimed docu-theater Bordertown, as well as Herbert Siguenza’s 2010, A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, both at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. She improvised a solo in a fountain in Richard Montoya and Guillermo Gomez Pena’s Los Dopplegangers at UCLA’s Fowler Museum. She choreographed for runway, a commission from the elite fashion label, Gypsy 05. She has taught at Hollywood Dance Center, San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet , Anna Djanbazian Dance Academy, as well as master classes at performing arts centers. She performed with Helios Dance Theatre for five seasons, Post House Dance Group, Eveoke Dance Theatre, Synaptic Dance Collective, and co-founded Between the Raw Dance Collective. Ms Present was selected as distinguished alumni by her college, UCSD, for a campus wide banner campaign, for being a “dreamer, risk taker and leader who are achieving the extraordinary, possessing the University’s spirit of innovation, discovery, and entrepreneurial drive."
Click on the links below to see dance and dance films by Paula Present
Look Ma, I'm on a banner!
The choreographer Paula Present has a gift for creating memorable body sculpture (particularly with groups) and for shaping a sophisticated, contemporary movement vocabulary into fine-grained meditations on important current issues...her award-winning, mostly female PTERO Dance Theatre provides a satisfying look at her artistry... Present's "In the Forest" artfully develops a conflict between sensual needs and religious repression...the process of transforming the news of the day into thoughtful, committed dancing represents the kind of positive action that's needed on the widest possible scale right now...it's heartening to find a constellation of skillful Los Angeles artists making work that's something more than their oh-so-sensitive souls, their last love affair, their fabulous technique, their devastating sex appeal or their beautiful feet.
- LA Times
The second weekend of Wild Dancing West presented three companies at VSA North Fourth Art Center... and the breathtaking PTERO Dance Theatre from Los Angeles. PTERO's seven short, brilliant dances brought the evening to a new level of dance performance and design. The three dancers of PTERO Dance Theatre were an astonishing trio of dancer / artists revealing beauty of line and shape with clarity and sharply focused intention. Present's fluid extension of arms and legs sustained each breath of phrase as it grew from the body's center. Wieland performed "SOS"...with superb physical articulation, changing level and direction. Lunges across the floor, executed with her serpentine, rippling spine, were breathtaking. Harris created the dynamic dance "Dichotomize" using a pole prop as the initiator of movement, and as a totally integrated fifth limb.
- Albuquerque Journal
This piece (OmPaHdEnLeIsAs) is imaginatively choreographed with meaningful gesture and interesting lifts...In Scrape, Present who is a wonder of movement, musicality, and passion-suffers a nearly unbearable misery until set on a new path by the lithe Shannon Harris. Where the Body End reflects our inner and outer beauties, danced by Sarandon Cassidy, Nicole LaCour, and Harris. Woman in There Somewhere again reflects an unfolding of the human body and soul, danced by the technically and dramatically powerful trio of Chelsea Gilbert, Present, and (Lillian) Bitkoff...Present reflects youthful, dreamy optimism again beautifully rendered- in 'Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon'.
- Backstage West
...isn’t it refreshing to find an artist with a positive political activism? (Sarandon Cassidy) Vincent’s solos of longing in a sand pile, in which she roiled dust clouds, were among the night’s most poetic moments. Club Fais Do-Do made a terrific, funky, in-the-round dance venue. (Paula) Present made excellent use of the space.
'Holding Up the Sky,' with an all female cast. Strongly demonstrates the idea that some themes, such as peace, are universal. Responding to violence against women, the devastation of war and other issues of the day, 'Holding Up the Sky' offers a strongly crafted hour of dance theater...with artful dance sequences choreographed by Paula Present...Evan A Bartoletti's multi level set helps separate such large-scale passages, but Present's choreography always makes its purpose unmistakable...a mimed and danced antiwar conference in a semi circle of chairs displays the specificity of Present' talent to the utmost, while the power of the ensemble reaches maximum impact in her percussive war quintet.
— LA Times
In 'Beloved, be loved,' Paula Present showed this relationship at it's most life affirming. Dancing lyrically around and over a boom box, she reminded everyone of how recorded music can inspire a sense of connection even when we are most alone. "We will keep each other safe from harm," the lyrics promised, and Present responded with utter devotion.
— LA Times