Bob Eisen | Dance Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bob Eisen 

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The variety in Bob Eisen's improvisational dancing is astounding. He can fold his lofty, loose-jointed frame into a tiny area on the floor so that he looks more like an embryo than a man, and he can stretch to the ceiling, as dignified and urbane as the hero in a classical ballet. He can turn gracefully across the floor and end in an awkward knot. He can make us laugh with a staggering twirl or a funny circling walk, wrists and ankles flexed. His ribs can talk to us, jutting out poignantly as he lies belly-up, pumping like a bellows or as calm as sails on a windless lake. And now more than ever, Eisen's dancing is emotionally expressive, embellished by the groans and grimaces of mental and physical exertion. His one-man shows in the series "Knoxville" are like conversations--though Eisen does all the talking and we merely eavesdrop, wondering where each kinetic monologue will go and how it will end. Fish provides the accompaniment, "playing" a boom box by adding and subtracting sounds--industrial noise, static--and adjusting the volume. It's all low-key yet somehow intense, as both Eisen and Fish struggle to make something of a hot room, a little noise, and a lanky body. Afterward they shift gears, playing the genial hosts and serving homemade cookies and iced tea. Saturdays at 3 (except July 24) through July 31 at Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; $2. Call 773-281-0824 for tickets and information.

--Laura Molzahn

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