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Deborah Siegel


October 1, 2009

Dear Links,

I know I am way way way way late on this, but I have to send it anyway. I kept intending to do that cool make-a-page Links Hall remembrance thingy, but I never had time. Anyway, it is now the last second before the festivities begin, and even though I don’t know who will get to see this, here you go.

I was in the first concert produced at Links Hall. It was called “Squares and Dreams,” choreographed by Ellen Krueger and Susan Lane. It premiered April 20, 21, 27 & 28, 1979 and was performed again later that year in the fall. (I know these dates because I found a poster for the show in my attic. I probably have a program up there somewhere too, but did not find it on my first foray into the darkness & dust.) Fred Simon composed and recorded fabulous original music for the piece (I might even have a reel-to-reel tape of it somewhere) and Ken Bowen designed the lights. Kenny used to say it was one of his favorite designs ever. If I remember correctly, that had to do with the artistic limitations dictated by the miserly amounts of electricity carried by extension cord from downstairs somewhere. He would be happy to provide details. (This concert was also the first time someone hung sidelights out in the trees.) The lights were run by Len Amato, who, in later years, produced a mess of Hollywood movies and is now a VP at HBO. Besides Ellen, Susan, and me, Diana Conforti (Len’s girlfriend then, wife now), danced in the piece. I have pictures of us taken at dress rehearsal by Chuck Osgood (Tribune photographer) who was then Carol Bobrow’s hubby and the primo dance photographer around town.

The title “Squares & Dreams” reflected the structure of the evening-length piece. Sections that were more rhythmic, mathematical, structured, and linear (Squares) alternated with more free-form compositions (Dreams). The music also alternated between very lush and lyrical with Fred’s amazing piano compositions, and truly wacky, experimental, and more percussive. The creation of the dance and some of the music was extremely collaborative, improvisational, and fueled by amazing quantities of marijuana, which we were able to smoke freely in the studio at Links for the hours and weeks and months of rehearsals it took for the piece to slowly evolve.

I had just recently moved to Chicago when Ellen and Susan invited me to be in this piece. It was such a gift to be welcomed into the dance community through this work with them at Links Hall. That was my first experience with Links, but in subsequent years I rented rehearsal space, attended workshops, taught, and curated and performed in Poonie’s Cabaret (I had danced with Poonie in Jan Erkert’s company in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s). I also performed in many other works at Links – choreographed by others, choreographed by me, and including plenty of improvisation – both pure-movement based and text-and-movement based. My kids (their dad is Ken Bowen) were even drawn in to some of the performances, particularly one by Iris Dance Improvisation Group where the audience wrote instructions on paper airplanes and sailed them onto the stage.

Time passes and Links Hall is still the dancer’s friend. When I first performed there I was in my twenties, fresh out of the woods, crazy in love with my boyfriend who I’d moved to Chicago to be with. One of my later performances there was an improvised text and movement piece that looked at turning 50, being a mom (still in love with the same dude), and facing big changes.

Congratulations Links Hall. Keep it up.

Deb Siegel


Somebody’s Daughters



Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak



Canadian-born Molly Shanahan founded Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak in 1994 as the home for her artistic projects after completing her Masters of Arts in Dance/Choreography at The Ohio State University.

Shanahan’s creative achievements are increasingly recognized across the field of contemporary dance, evidenced by critical and audience response and by organizations like Links Hall (Chicago) and the National Performance Network, among others, that have endorsed and supported her work. Shanahan’s work has been performed in Chicago at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Links Hall, Storefront Theater, and others. Outside Chicago, Mad Shak has performed at Dance Theater Workshop, Tangente (Montreal), and as a featured artist at the National Performance Annual Meeting in 2005, among others. In 2004 Mad Shak was the recipient of the Chicago Dance and Music Alliance’s Elizabeth F. Cheney Dance Achievement Award, citing Shanahan’s evening-length projects “So-Called Repetition,” “The Poems of Replaceable Kings,” and “Eye Cycle” as exemplary instances of impact on the field and promise for continued innovation. Following a rigorous selection process, Shanahan was named one of four choreographers selected as a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist for 2006/07. She was named by Time Out Chicago as one of the “20 People to Watch in 2007” and most recently received an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award in choreography in 2008.

Shanahan is influenced by Feldenkrais, Skinner Releasing Technique, improvisation, collaboration and body-mind studies, as well as early experience with urban social dance and Afro-Caribbean forms. She is on the dance faculty at Northwestern University and teaches throughout Chicago and in residencies associated with the creation and presentation of her work.

Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak will present Stamina of Curiosity at Milwaukee’s Pitman Theater at Alverno College Saturday, October 24 at 8:00pm; click here for ticketing information and more details.

Mark Miller and Anne Cousineau



Right-click image to view and enlarge.

Sara Wookey



Sara Wookey is a Los Angeles-based artist and creative consultant working collaboratively on interpretive walking tours, educational programs, performances and interactive media projects through her studio located in downtown Los Angeles. Collaborating with artists, architects, geographers and urban planners, her work encourages an experience of the city through participation and play and proposes socio-spatial creative possiblities for current urban issues. Sara’s training as a dancer and choreographer and her ten years spent living and working in Amsterdam, the Netherlands are key influences to her interest in the relationship between human experience and the built environment.

She currently works with the collectives: the Los Angeles Urban Rangers and is a founding member of the Choreographer’s Working Group\LA and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts and has been a guest teacher at the University of Southern California and Woodbury University. Her clients currently include: SC Wildlands, SCV Green, and Patagonia.

Links Hall 30/30 is coming soon!


Maggie Kast/Kast & Company



Maggie Kast is a dancer, teacher, writer, and community activist. Trained in Graham, Cunningham, and ballet techniques, she has performed for a number of troupes including Robin Lakes/Rough Dance and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. She founded, developed, and directed Chicago Contemporary Dance Theatre (1963-1980), serving as director, principal choreographer, teacher, and performer. She has a strong interest in dance within the context of worship, and has extensive experience in choreographing liturgical dance. Maggie has served on several boards, including St. Basil’s Free Peoples’ Clinic and Esperanza Community services. Maggie received her B.A. from the University of Chicago, and earned a Masters of Theological Studies from the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. She has taught at Valparaiso University and Columbia College. The recipient of several grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Maggie has also been recognized by the Chicago Dance Coalition, which gave her the Ruth Page Award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Dance Community.”

Maggie’s new book, The Crack Between the Worlds: A Dancer’s Memoir of Loss, Faith and Family, will be launched at 7:30pm on September 24 at Women and Children First Bookstore in Andersonville. A reception will follow — for more information please visit