nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
August 15, 2008
Conjecture consists of two modern dance pieces choreographed by Robin Rapoport and performed by her all-female company, Headless Whorse Dance. Live theater is exciting for a reason. . .anything can happen. Unfortunately in this case, that includes a video projector that did not seem to be working. A movie screen dominates the otherwise almost bare stage for both pieces and I suspect the films I was not able to view play a rather large part in the telling of the stories. Consequently the audience had to view the dancers against a blue screen for the entire first half and a black screen for the second of this 30-minute presentation. But Rapoport's choreography is charming enough, and the dancers execute it smoothly and with humor when necessary.
The first piece, "From Swords To Ploughshares," seems to take place in an orchard a harvest time. There is a basket of apples downstage left and the dancers are costumed by Jessica Parks, who put them in lovely earth-toned medieval-style dresses with dropped waistlines and full shirts that swirl beautifully. The women dip and turn to recorded music by The Hillard Ensemble, a British classical vocal quartet known for early music. The piece is as soothing as a walk in a country field.
The second piece, "New York Stories," has more angular choreography, featuring modern clothing by Rapoport and music from The Roches, a female vocal group of three songwriting Irish-American sisters known for their unusual rich harmonies, and quirky lyrics. It happened to be a song I like a lot called "No Shoes," and the choreography is quirky, very playful, and humorous, nicely incorporating the use of a table into the mix as the dancers play off each other. The dancers are athletic and graceful and seem to have a great time with the lively choreography.
The lighting for both pieces by Carolyn Wong fit the pieces, swinging from softer light for the first piece, suggesting a field at dawn and brighter and more glaring for the second more in-your-face piece. During the short pause between pieces, we are given the sound of bell chimes and rain sounds.