Links Goes To Japan Because…

Through the National Performance Network’s Asia Exchange, Links Hall was selected in 2014 to be one of three curatorial partners in the U.S. along with the Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont and Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas to join three curatorial partners in Japan: Kyoto Experiment Festival, Dance Box in Kobe and NPO Arts Link for the three year US/Japan Connection project to foster meaningful artistic and cultural exchange between our two countries.

Led by NPN’s Kyoko Yoshida, the partners were able to learn about artists and organizations and the strengths and challenges of cultural production in Austin, Burlington, Chicago, Kobe, Kyoto, Portland, Rikuzen-Takada, Shiogama, Tokyo, Tulsa, Yokohama, as well as in Gwangju and Seoul, South Korea.

Together the US/Japan curatorial team developed new model of artistic exchange: providing concurrentresidencies and performance opportunities in both countries for a Japanese dance artist and an American dance artist to create new works by learning from each other’s cultures and ways of making. This would build upon the strengths of Dance Box and Links Hall as incubators and The Flynn, Fusebox and Kyoto Experiment Festival as presenters.

Chicago’s own Darrell Jones was the American artist selectedand Tokyo’s Kaori Seki was the Japanese artist selected by the curatorial partners.

The artists agreed to develop new works within this model. The first leg of the exchange was a month-long residency in the US in November-December 2016 experiencing Thanksgiving in Burlington, the NPN Annual Meeting in Austin, and three weeks working in the studios at Links Hall in Chicago. Darrell and Kaori and their collaborators sat in on each other’s rehearsals, participated in each other’s workshops and warm ups, and began their research into creating their separate new works. In May 2017, Darrell and Kaori and their collaborators spent three weeks at Dance Box in Kobe furthering their research and development and offering workshops to the local community of dancers.

The US premier of both Darrell’s CLUTCH and Kaori Seki’s as-yet-untitled work will take place at Links Hall in April 2018.

To celebrate the success of the Asian Exchange Program, Links Hall staff invites members of Chicago community to join us for Links to Japan: October 28 – November 5, 2017 to visit Kaori Seki’s Studio in Tokyo as she continues to develop her work for her US premier, and attend the 2017 Kyoto Experiment Festival.

This Links to Japan trip will be a chance to share the remarkable experiences Links Hall’s staff and Darrell Jones’ Ensemble has had in getting to know the thriving contemporary dance, performance, and culinary arts scenes in Tokyo, Kobe and Kyoto.

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Through years of experimenting and analyzing oppression as it lives in the body, Darrell Jones excavates how individuals accumulate identity and mirror culture through movement. Jones has developed a live art experience that guides participants to resist oppressive corporeal constructs and, in brief transcendent moments, experience consciousness entirely without them.

Jones’ work CLUTCH responds meaningfully to the need to build interpersonal empathetic bridges. In this liminal space, he engages a powerful question about the ontological reality of oppression. Can we transcend oppressive structures through movement? And can we help one another to find restorative moments of liberation?

Meet the Artists

Darrell Jones

Darrell Jones

Darrell Jones has performed in the United States and abroad with a variety of companies such as Bebe Miller, Urban Bush Women, Ronald K. Brown, Min Tanaka, Ralph Lemon and KOKUMA DanceTheater. He has collaborated with choreographers (Angie Hauser, Jeremy Wade, Onye Ozuzu), writer (Cheryl Boyce-Taylor), musicians (Jessie Mano, Brian Schuler) and designer (Mawish Syed) in dance films, documentations and interactive multimedia installations. In addition to his collaborative work he continues to work in solo forms. Along with performing, Darrell has taught workshops and master classes in dance technique and compositional processes throughout the United States, South Africa, United Kingdom and South Korea. Darrell is presently a full-time faculty member at the Dance Center of Columbia College in Chicago.

Damon Green

Damon Green

Damon D. Green is a Chicago-based dancer and was born in Champaign, Illinois, where his dance education and training began at The Christine Rich Studio under the direction of Christine Rich. Green began his training in classical ballet and jazz in 1996, continuing with the Champaign Park District under Kimberly Burson from 1997-2002. Green furthered his education at Columbia College Chicago starting in 2003, where he was introduced to Modern/Contemporary, African and Vogue dance. Voguing is currently Damon’s specialty and he continues to explore and perform in this form, in its fusion with contemporary vocabulary, with choreographer and Associate Professor of Dance Darrell Jones. Damon maintains his presence in the contemporary dance world with The Seldoms, led by Artistic Director Carrie Hanson. Additionally, Damon has worked with choreographer and dance educator Paige Cunningham, fusing Contemporary Ballet and Voguing in a piece called “Werk” in 2011. Green has traveled abroad, performing in Siberia and Taiwan and introduced Voguing to Russian students as a master teacher at the Isadora International Festival of Contemporary Dance. TimeOut Chicago rated him one of the “Top 10 Men of Dance” in 2010.

J’Sun Howard

J’Sun Howard is from Chattanooga, TN. A Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum grantee, 2014, his choreography has appeared at local venues Links Hall, Northwestern University, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Epiphany Church, and Rumble Arts. In 2009, J’Sun was selected to be a LinkUp Residency to deepen his artistic practice at Links Hall and in 2010 he was granted the Julius Margolin “Youth in Labor” Award to protest at the gates of the School of Americas in Fort Benning, GA. He has also performed at Patrick’s Cabaret (Minneapolis, MN), had work commissioned by the Chicago Academy School for the Arts, and been a sponsored artist at High Concept Laboratories. J’Sun has performed for many choreographers including Malcolm Jason Low, Asimina Chremos, Sara Wookey, Paige Cunningham, Selene Carter, but most extensively with collaborators Darrell Jones and Damon Green in their research of (e)feminized ritual performance, which received a 2013 Juried Bessie Award in support of Hoo-Ha (for your eyes only). His collaboration, Utopic Monster Theory, with poet Jennifer Karmin has been performed in exhibitions “I Can’t Breathe” at ARC Gallery, “Law and Disorder” at Women Made Gallery, and Small Traffic Press’s production of Poets Theater Festival (San Francisco, CA), and the IN>Time Performance Festival. His literary work can be read in the journals: Chicago IRL, Inkwell, Danspace’s Constellations and Influences, Garland Court Review, Storyglossia, 3rd Language, Bird’s Thumb, and Manifold, The Body.

Justin Mitchell

Justin Mitchell

Justin I. Mitchell is a Chicago based DJ and multimedia artist performing under the moniker Hijo Pródigo. The sound Mitchell cultivates through their DJ work spans sub-cultural club music movements found across the world, experimenting with dissonance, disparity and aggression while exploring themes of excess, chaos, destruction, redemption, and rebirth.

Mitchell is currently working on music production with Chicago born/New York based, indie record label #FUTUREHOOD, as well as soundtracking various film and television projects.

Kyoto Experiment Festival

Kyoto Experiment Festival

Kyoto Experiment: Kyoto International Performing Arts Festival has taken place every autumn in Kyoto since 2010, bringing together leading examples of theater and dance from around the world. The eighth festival will be held for 23 days between October 14th and November 5th, 2017, with ROHM Theatre Kyoto as the main venue. As always, the festival will include specifically commissioned new work by international artists. By serving as an experimental place for creativity and interchange, the festival aspires to transform Kyoto into a platform for the global performing arts.

This year’s programming is themed around encounters with the “inner other.” The participating artists will present work that transcends familiar contexts of geography, genre and style to uncover what is “different” within society and us.


CLUTCH is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

Links Hall is a NPN/VAN Partner of the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN). This project is made possible in part by support from the NPN/VAN Artist Engagement Fund. Major contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information visit

Darrell Jones (Chicago, USA) and Kaori Seki (Tokyo, Japan) were co-commissioned by the NPN/VAN U.S./Japan Connection 2014-2016 curatorial team of Dance Box, The Flynn Center, Fusebox Festival, Kyoto Experiment Festival, Links Hall, and NPO Arts Link. The U.S./Japan Connection, an international program of National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN), is supported by The Japan Foundation Center for GlobalPartnership and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC). Additional funding is provided by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Bilingual facilitation and consultation services for the project is provided by the U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network (CTN).