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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

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