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Conversation Piece (1979)

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Choreography: Dawn Kramer
1999 performers: Dawn Kramer, Bill McLaughlin and Micki Taylor-Pinney and extras
1979 original performers: Dawn Kramer, Judith Chaffee and Carlo Rizzo

Conversation Piece continues the choreographer’s exploration of using the ordinary events of everyday life as sources for making dances. The objects associated with those mundane events become physical, kinesthetic, and expressive extensions of the performers. The rhythms and repetitions of telephone language and numbers provide the fabric of sound through which the movement is woven. Conversation Piece is bound to refresh your perspective on the frustrations of “modern communication.”


In the solo of Conversation Piece, Kramer joined extensions with a telephone in a pas de deux that proved a phone can do more than just ring. Simulating a do-it-yourself home hook up that resulted in cordal bondage, receiver draped over forehead and dangling above collarbone, she untwined herself in a sequence of exciting hula hoop undulations. . .The duet in Conversation Piece was a hot number, with Judith Chaffee and Carlo Rizzo dashing about, dialing and exchanging phones. The verbal warfare mounted to a raging din of that inane chatter we banter: hello, sorry, it’s for you, hope it’s not too late to call, I’ve been trying to reach you...With phone to ear, always listening for the magical caller, Rizzo and Chaffee hit crazy poses and lifts, their faces blank and eyes blinking vacuously.

-Donna Bradford, Sojourner, January, 1982