collage of six artist headshots
(top row, l-to-r) Cherrie Yu // Vanessa Valliere // Kierah King
(bottom row, l-to-r) Elliot Reza Emadian // Taimy Ramos Velazquez // Hannah Santistevan

Links Hall (Chicago, IL) is proud to announce the 2020-2021 Co-MISSION Resident artists: Elliot Reza Emadian, Kierah King, Hannah Santistevan, Vanessa Valliere, Taimy Ramos Velazquez, and Cherrie Yu. Artists will be in residence at Links Hall in fall 2020 and spring 2021. This year’s Festival of New Works, featuring all six artists, will take place in May 2021 (detailed schedule TBA).

In addition to the Co-MISSION Resident Artists, Links Hall will be commissioning two artists/collectives this season: J’Sun Howard for the research and development of his new work, The Righteous Beauty of Things Never Accounted For; and SOL Collective–Shelley A. Davis, DeeDee Pacheco, and Kara Wright–in a project to be named (spring 2021).

Co-MISSION Residencies

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the temporary closing of Chicago performance venues, and a nation-wide reduction of resources for emerging and early career artists, Links Hall has deepened our commitment to supporting independent artists in the research and development of new work. This season, Links is increasing the number of annual Co-MISSION Residencies from four to six artists and nearly tripling our total budget for Resident Artists fees. In addition, the organization is transitioning from a box office “split” for resident artists to guaranteed performance fees for the Residency’s popular Festival of New Works. These commitments aim to lessen the financial risk shouldered by emerging artists and provide more income security during the pandemic, when audience-building may prove more challenging than previous years.

This year’s Co-MISSION artists represent some of the most talented young makers in Chicago, bringing together dance, storytelling, puppetry, performance art, installations, and performance as social practice. Links Hall Board Member and Art of Rehearsal coach Kim Davis shares: “Working with the Co-MISSION cohorts is one of the highlights of the season for me and I am extremely excited for this year’s class. They will have a unique opportunity to express their voice during these harrowing times and remind us that art still lives, it still connects, and its impact is vitally important to all of us.”

Co-MISSION Residencies support artists in developing a new performance work, at any stage of its development. Residencies include three months of studio space (over 575 hours in 2020-2021, valued at approximately $1,500 per resident artist), monthly artist stipends, individual mentorship, the Art of Rehearsal workshop series, a work-in-progress showing, box office and marketing services, and a split bill premiere of their new work at the Festival of New Works. Each artist will also create a virtual audience engagement program, inviting audiences behind the scenes to learn more about the creative process–from the artists’ point of view. Festival and engagement event details to be announced. Co-MISSION artists are selected with guidance by a jury panel composed of Links staff, board, curators, artists, and other community members. 2020-2021 jury members include: Brittany Anderson, Aaliyah Christina, Kim Davis, Maggie Kast, Stephanie Pacheco, Himabindu Poroori, and Myra Su.

Co-MISSION Project Descriptions

Elliot Reza Emadian’s Daddy (aka MASCCHAOS) examines the presence/absence of the masculine within the creation of choreographic work and a nonbinary identity. Harnessing personal narrative, improvisation, and a drove of pop music ruminating on “daddies,” (from Beyoncé to Babs), the work upends linear causality and uses trans and nonbinary praxis to reframe viewership.

Kierah King’s Viewership Intended for Re(Creational) use only uses dance, narrative, and performance as social practice to investigate the idea of “A More Perfect Union.” From the workday hustle to weekend club culture, how can a generation addicted to work hard/play hard explore Release & Pause as a communal, radical act?

Hannah Michal Santistevan’s The Brink is a reenactment of the highs and lows of modern civilization. Fixating on humanity’s deepest flaws and its inevitable demise, Santistevan’s new work proposes a bold theory–and possible solution–that could delay the extinction of the human species.

Vanessa Valliere’s The Visitor is the puppet-theater story of an explorer sent to find a way to forward the future of her people. The explorer fights her awkward, flawed, and distractible nature, determined to make it right and win the approval of the authority figures of her home planet. When she journeys to a previously undiscovered place, she is forced to examine who she is, what is important, and whether or not “home” is a place you can choose.

Taimy Ramos Velázquez’s Four Walls and One Me explores the challenges we are facing in our alternative, societal reality of quarantine. Dissecting the complicated layering of feelings and life inconsistencies, Four Walls and One Me is a reflection of the human experience–at this very moment in time.

Cherrie Yu’s Trio A Translation Project gathers dance artists and their loved ones to engage in a collaboration of performance and transcription of the historical choreographic work—Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A (1966). Remotely generated and recorded, these documented works will serve both as film installation and as inspiration for live performances.

Additional Artist Support

(clockwise from left) Kara Wright // Shelley A. Davis // DeeDee Pacheco // J’Sun Howard

Extending support of independent artists this season, Links Hall is proud to support the following artists through “no strings-attached” cash commissions:

J’Sun Howard’s The Righteous Beauty of Things Never Accounted For is a transdisciplinary performance project about the built environment—spatial and ecological politics. How do Black and Brown bodies negotiate and perceive space? Through embodied meditation and experimentation of architectural imagination, cartography, and modalities of practicing freedom, The Righteous Beauty of the Things Never Accounted For aims to reveal new critical frameworks for Black Fugitivity. J’Sun notes, “My dance making process builds space of non-victimhood; providing Black men with opportunities to release fear in a country that systematically condemns our humanity. My aim is to organize generous, loving, and compassionate play for Black men.”

SOL Collective, founded by Shelley A. Davis, DeeDee Pacheco, and Kara Wright, envisions storytelling as systems change. This collaborative and interdisciplinary project offers emerging and established artists and audiences the opportunity to hear stories that are consciously developed as restorative and healing-centered experiences, reflecting the dynamic and transformative lives of womxn of color. In a performance arts scene that primarily revolves around competition, folklore, open mic, or cis-male heteronormative audiences, SOL is seeking to build original work created by and performed by womxn of color. Spring 2021 marks the premiere performance of this new Chicago-based Collective.