Bob Eisen & Michael Zerang

Sunday, August 3, 1997
Section: Metro Chicago
Column: Arts Watch, Dance review
By Sid Smith, Tribune Arts Critic

The annual Chance Dance Fest is aptly named, a modest lineup of unusual, risky programming housed in the cozy, upstairs confines of Link’s Hall in Chicago.

The tiny studio setting lends an air of experiment and even rehearsal informality. This year, each of the offerings, scheduled Wednesdays through August, features Link’s Hall director and dancer Bob Eisen and musician Michael Zerang as an improvisational duo, joined each week by a different guest soloist or group.

The inaugural presentation last week was, alas, a bit too modest. Eisen and Zerang’s improvisations are tantalizing enough. The performers circled each other like reluctant dance partners, sometimes pausing to rest in intimate, brief moments of silence.

Otherwise, Zerang performed often dissonant, non-linear music on a pair of wooden recorders, a zither and a baritone, sometimes soft, piercing whistles, sometimes gurgling, Daffy Duck-like noise. Eisen responded to all this– melding his sleek, expressive choreography to Zerang’s harsh, alien sounds. There were classic synergies–Eisen would ape Zerang’s pacing, for instance.

And there were the expected incongruities: Eisen at one point stuck his head inside the baritone’s bell. Mostly, the work served as thought adventure, turning on the unreal, discordant universe the two artists prefer to inhabit.

The Chance Dance Fest plays through Aug. 27at Links Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield Ave. Phone 773-281-0824.

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