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Carol Bobrow

Zachary Whittenburg: We’ve heard that Links Hall was born out of a need for space to create. Was it intended from the start to be a performance venue as well, or did that evolve more gradually?

Carol Bobrow: Of the three of us, my memory is the most sieve-like, so for historical accuracy read my stuff with one eye closed. Envisioning Links as a performance space was in our minds from the beginning because Jim Self had done some simple, beautiful things there. The raw unadorned grace of Links isn’t just a backdrop—it has the presence and influence of a collaborating fellow performer.

How would you describe what each of your roles were in those early days?

I always felt Bob was the heart of it. He understood from the beginning that the place was more than something that was fulfilling our need to have a place to work—he saw our responsibility to other dancers and their need for affordability, friendliness and community. Plus he was an amazing sweeper. Some might say a meditative mover. Some might say obsessive broom person.

We met regularly, most often at my kitchen table because I had a baby; I felt lucky to be a part of our threesome. Bob, Charlie and I had a great rapport—our birthdays fall within days of each other. We had lots of laughs and great discussions. My contribution was pretty simple: be a part of decision making, believe in the place, create dances. I was lucky to be there.

What do you recall about the neighborhood at that time?

The neighborhood was a little seedy, there was a mustiness about the buildings, but it was friendly. Manny’s was a well-loved, well-worn diner across the street on Sheffield—my little girl’s feet didn’t reach the edge of the seat in the booth, and I’d read to her while we waited for our eggs. Chester’s Hamburger King was a great place to drink tea, and I loved Bob’s piece where he took the audience via video to the liquor store on the corner.

Is there any event that, to you, really captures the spirit of that moment?

So many moments! Working with Charlie, dancing on his benches, rehearsing with Bob from 10:00pm to midnight, having just had a baby, on a dance that kept me sending me back into the closet! Creating and performing [my solo work] Journal, climbing a tower of chairs and telling stories to the audience.

When did you leave Links Hall? What have you been up to since?

My son was born in 1984 and I took a few years to be with my children full time. I first started teaching teenagers at Mercy Boys Home, then at Marillac High School. This is my eighteenth year at New Trier High School, which has offered modern dance for over 75 years, and I’ve begun to work with young incarcerated females with Meade Palidofsky and Story Catcher Theater. I’ve seen a lot of pain while working with young people and have lost several students to suicide. I believe art is balm, “motion is lotion,” and meditation makes for a happy mind. With these tools, and the innate wisdom of my students,  I’m finding a way of helping young people gain wholeness and health through dance.

Will you be performing at the anniversary celebration?

I haven’t committed to performing—I like the idea, but I work pretty huge hours and am going out to Warrenville for Story Catchers, so I don’t know if it’s feasible.

I just want to say how happy I am to see the vibrant work being done in Chicago—Thread Meddle [Outfit] and others are doing us proud in honestly exploring human lives in motion. I’m honored to be included in this celebration and to have been a part of this little pocket of the world at an exciting time.

Interview conducted via email August 19, 2009 and edited by Zachary Whittenburg.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/25/2011 6:01 pm

    I can remember very late and coffee EARLY rehearsals at Links with Carol Bobrow. I was a poor Dance Center student and Carol would treat to breakfast and the restaurant below Links. We worked on my debut performance of “American Sing-A-Long” the second solo in Carol’s work that was a part of the “Hiroshima Trilogy”. The solos dealt with individual’s perceptions of war from a U.S. pilot’s view of the U.S. bombing on Nagasaki, to a girl’s perception of Vietnam from having 4 brothers in the army, to one man’s thoughts on peace and the possibility of WWIII. It was a great work that didn’t get it’s due recognition. Chuck was our photographer of course…and he took a great promo shot of Orlandis Todd Richardson for the poster. We performed at Links, MoMing and the Dance Center (Sheridan Road) and the peace museum 1982-4 if my memory serves me right. I followed in Carol’s footsteps and became a “Mo & Co” member under Shirley.

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  1. Charlie Vernon’s Dances « Links Hall 30/30 Pages

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