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 “water and tears” will take place at Links Hall in April 2018.

To celebrate the success of the Asian Exchange Program, Links Hall’s Director Roell Schmidt and Associate Director Anna Trier 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.



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?

water and tears

photo credit: Christopher Shea

water and tears (co-commissioned by FuseBox Festival, The Flynn Center for Performing Arts, and Links Hall with support from the National Performance Network)

The title of this new piece in Japanese is “midu tsu namita”. In the ancient Japanese language “midu” means water, “namita” means “tears,” and the two words are connected with “tsu,” meaning “belonging to.”

I think of the time when the borders between oneself and others were vague. I imagine the time when there wasn’t an awareness of the self being divided from the other, or even the identification of the self as “one”. In the way when two glasses of water are blended, you could not tell anymore which part of the water comes from which glass. Even in the present time I recognize myself as a separate being, but know my body contains the same water that all other living creatures have.

The question is, whether or not I regard what lies in front of my eyes as also “me,” or “an extension of me.”

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.

Kaori Seki

Kaori Seki started creating her own choreographic works. Since 2003 her works have been showed in public and in 2013 Seki established her company KAORI SEKI Co. PUNCTUMUN. In her creation process, she explores the physical senses of human being, animals and plants and has created pieces evoking sensory stimulus of the audience using smells and fragrances. Seki was the winner of “the French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographer” at Yokohama Dance Collection EX2012 for “Hetero”, co-choreographed with Teita Iwabuchi. The prize offered her an opportunity of a residency at Centre national de dance contemporaine Angers (CNDC) in France. Received “Next Generation Choreographer Award” grand prix at the Toyota Choreography Award 2012, ELSUR FOUNDATION Award for Young artists (Contemporary Dance Department) 2013 and Japan Dance Forum Award 2016 as well and a Junior Fellow 2014-2017 of The Saison Foundation. As a dancer, she has taken part in works by Ko Murobushi. Recent works: “water and tears” (2018); “Utu ri”(2017); “WO CO” (2016); “Miroedetut” (2014); “Amigrecta” (2013); “Marmont” (2010).

Meet the Partners

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.

Originally an operating committee established in 1996 to produce dance performances and workshops in the Torii Hall, a private-sector theater in Osaka. When the Torii Hall stopped its production activities, the committee reorganized itself as an independent project organization, the NPO Dance BOX. In 2002, it established the small theater Art Theater dB in the Shinsekai Arts Park, using a vacant space in the amusement park/commercial building complex Festival Gate in Osaka. With Osaka City supporting the program by paying its rent and utilities, the organization worked on projects that make use of the private-sector NPO initiative. Although the theater was closed when Festival Gate went out of business in 2007, Dance BOX is still active as one of the few dance-specialized arts NPOs in Japan.



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).