What is interesting? : A response by Timothy Tsang

one off, off one, again

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at Links Hall (*)

Duet performed by Bob Eisen and Joanne Barrett

Solo by Laurie Van Wieren

Duet by Paige Caldarella, performed by Jess Duffy and Chloe Michels

Monologue by Beau O’Reilly

New work by Bob Eisen, performed by Same Planet Performance Project: Patrick Burns, Jess Duffy, Michelle Giordanelli, and Michael O’Neill

image credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis

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Co-founder of Links Hall, Bob Eisen, returns to Chicago with a one-night only concert. There was no way I’d miss this.

I was fortunate enough to have worked with Bob Eisen last spring as he set work on me with the Repertory Performance Workshop ensemble at Columbia College Chicago. It was not an easy task. Bob’s movement is so interesting, quirky, and unique, that it wasn’t easy recreating. Though it wasn’t easy, I have developed a strong admiration and respect for him.

There were 5 works in the program: a duet by Bob Eisen and Joanne Barrett, solo by Laurie Van Wieren, another duet by Paige Caldarella, a monologue by Beau O’Reilly, and lastly, a quartet on Same Planet Performance Project by Bob Eisen. Personally, it seems to all tie together with Bob’s sense of quirkiness, and extensions (“lanky limbs”).

The solo by Laurie is what struck me most. It started when I didn’t even realize the first piece was over. The work intertwined with distinct gestures, quirky dancing, voice (sometimes distorted, sometimes clear). At one point, she even went to “fix” a light – adjusting, and removing a gel. All of this coming from deep within the gut. Portraying a strong commitment to each motion, and showing a high level of artistry to the performance.

Following that was Paige’s duet. Though there weren’t any programs for the performance, this piece was distinctly by Paige. Technically challenging as always. Filled with extensions, turns, and petite allegro steps, Paige borrows much from a ballet vocabulary, yet challenging and disrupting it, by removing some of the verticality, and shift between parallel and turn out. I bet the piece is very challenging to do. Jess Duffy and Chloe Michels definitely rose to the challenge and performed it stunningly.

The monologue following Judy Garland’s ghost was very playful and highly entertaining! Beau’s voice, eyes, and brows were animated and dynamic. Although there was a microphone set up, Beau didn’t use it much. Even that relationship suggested a sense of play. Playfulness much like Bob’s.

I skipped over the first duet, because I wanted to view it with the finale quartet in my head. There were many similarities between both works. Of course, they’re both by Bob. Each with Bob’s unique brand of movement, humorously dramatic gestures, and running in and out of the space. Having worked with Bob, he taught me a simple idea: when choreographing, the material has to be interesting at least to the choreographer. Often times, I get stuck in wanting the movement to “make sense” and I lose the sense of joy. Some things that stood out in these two pieces: The green and red costume in the duet, Bob’s sassy pose as the music says “hit it”, the walking in formation with the quartet, and when Michelle breaks out of it to get handed water.

The entire evening was nothing short of joy, humor, and constantly interesting entertainment!

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Timothy Tsang is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. He began his dance training in 2009 at The One Dance Studio in Shanghai, taking classes in hip hop, popping, locking, and waacking. Tim was first introduced to modern and ballet at Columbia College Chicago, where he earned his BA (’17) in dance, and minor in arts administration. During college, he performed in original works by Paige Cunningham-Calderella, Bob Eisen, and Stephanie Paul, as well as repertory of Merce Cunningham. In 2016, Tim was also commissioned by Columbia to choreograph for their Open House, and restaged twice. Tim began performing professionally, with Ardent Dance Company the same year. Since then, Tim has worked with South Chicago Dance Theatre, and performed in works by Krista Zozulia. Currently, Tim is dancing with Mordine & Co. Dance Theatre, serves as an assistant to Artistic Director with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, and is Communications person at Dance Center Evanston.

(*) PRJ is partnering with Links Hall to celebrate their 40th anniversary by providing a platform for artist-to-artist responses to the work that is presented as part of the Pay-the-40th-Forward season. Thank you, Links Hall, for all that you do for the dance and performance communities in Chicago. Congratulations on 40 years!