April 26 – 29, 2018

The U.S./Japan Connection is part of the International Program of the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN). In 2014 as part of the project, Links Hall in Chicago, The Flynn Center in Burlington, Vermont, and Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas, were selected to join three curatorial partners in Japan: Kyoto Experiment Festival, Dance Box in Kobe and NPO Arts Link for a three-year term to foster meaningful artistic and cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S.. Led by Kyoko Yoshida, project director/consultant, 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, and Yokohama.

Together the U.S.-Japan curatorial team developed a new model of artistic exchange: providing concurrent residencies and performance opportunities in both countries for a Japanese dance artist and an American dance artist. Their goal was 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 Festival and Kyoto Experiment Festival as presenters.

The two artists invited to partner with NPN’s U.S.-Japan Connection team were Chicago-based choreographer Darrell Jones and Tokyo-based choreographer Kaori Seki. The first leg included a month-long residency in the U.S. in November-December 2016 including Thanksgiving in Burlington, the NPN Annual Meeting in Austin, and three weeks working in the studios at Links Hall. 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.

The second leg took place in May 2017, as Darrell, Kaori and their collaborators then spent three weeks at Dance Box in Kobe furthering their research and development and offering workshops to the local community of dancers. Darrell and Kaori have returned to their home bases to further their works’ development. Darrell will premiere his new work CLUTCH at the Kyoto Experiment Festival in November 2017 followed by the Chicago premiere of CLUTCH at Links Hall in April 2018 on a shared weekend with Kaori Seki’s new work as part of a U.S. tour.

U.S./Japan Connection Artists

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 began training in classical ballet in her childhood and in contemporary dance at the age of eighteen. From the beginning of her career, she performed in the works of renowned choreographers Un Yamada and Kakuya Ohashi and began showing her own choreography in 2003. She participated in Gaga intensive Summer course led by Ohad Naharin and his Batsheva Dance Company) in 2008 and 2009 in Israel. In 2008, Seki received the Lab Award from ST spot Yokohama for her work “Yuki-chan.” Her work Marmont won the Toyota Choreography Award’s Grand Prix (Next Generation Choreography Award) in 2012. That same year, together with Teita Iwabuchi, Seki won the Yokohama Dance Collection EX2012 French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers and went to France for residency at le Centre national de danse contemporaine – Angers (CNDC). In 2013, Seki established her contemporary dance company in Tokyo – Kaori Seki Co. PUNKTUMUN. Her choreography is constructed in sensitive and careful calculation with her unique vocabulary based on the sensations on the skin as well as the other organs and senses of the body, particularly scent. Seki was a Saison Foundation Junior Fellow (2014-2016) and she received the JaDaFo Dance Prize 2016 (Japan Dance Forum Prize) in April 2017.

More information coming soon


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 www.npnweb.org.

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 Global Partnership 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).

The creation and the presentation of “CLUTCH” by Darrell Jones and the new work by Kaori Seki are made possible by funding from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Funding for Kaori Seki

This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Crane Group.

Supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program.

Funding for Darrell Jones

Supported by The MAP Fund, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional Funds come from the Andrew. W. Mellon Foundation.