May 20th 2021

2021 Co-MISSION Festival of New Works

@ Links Hall

3111 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Opening Thursday, May 20th, from 7:30PM - 10:30PM

On view through Sunday, May 30th

Links Hall Presents

2021 Co-MISSION Festival of New Works

May 20th – 23rd & May 27th – 30th



Links Hall (Chicago, IL) is proud to announce the 2021 Co-MISSION Festival of New Works, two groundbreaking weekends of new performance and public events. Representing some of the most talented young makers in Chicago from dance, performance art, puppetry, installation, and performance as social practice, six artists present works developed while in-residence at Links during the 2020-2021 season. This year’s festival also features two evening-length performances of 2020 Fellow Darling Shear’s Beatitude, a choreopoem of movement, fashion, and poetry. Recreating the spirit and percussive cadence of the Beat generation and spoken word poetry of related movements (Black Arts Movement), Shear and ensemble present work explored between January-June 2020, after COVID-19 caused cancellation of the June 2020 Fellows Showcase. All festival performances will be filmed and recorded at Links Hall’s white box studio, and streamed live via YouTube.

Links Artistic Coordinator Aaliyah Christina shares, “COVID-19 brought on a restorative and spontaneous change of pace for this year’s programming. This season’s Co-MISSION artists have been right here with us for the ride. It has given us new ways to schedule time in the studio, and it’s definitely given them new ways to devise performance work. I’m glad to have been able to work with this cohort so intensely, to keep each other honest about our progress (or roadblocks toward progress).”

Festival Schedule (see below for performance info & bios)

Weekend 1: streaming on YouTube at 7pm

Thursday, May 20 – Cherrie Yu A Translation Project // Hannah Michal Santistevan The Brink

Friday, May 21 – Darling Shear Beatitude

Saturday, May 22 – Vanessa Valliere Pool Party // Taimy Ramos Velázquez 4 walls & 1 me

Sunday, May 23 – Kierah King *Viewership Intended for Re(Creational) use only* // Elliot Reza Emadian MASCCHAOS 


Weekend 2: streaming on YouTube at 7pm

Thursday, May 27 – Elliot Reza Emadian MASCCHAOS // Vanessa Valliere Pool Party

Friday, May 28 – Taimy Ramos Velázquez 4 walls & 1 me // Cherrie Yu A Translation Project

Saturday, May 29 – Hannah Michal Santistevan The Brink  // Kierah King *Viewership Intended for Re(Creational) use only*

Sunday, May 30 – Darling Shear Beatitude


Related Events: streaming on Zoom

Sat, May 22, 1 pm –  The OT Presents: Choreographic Workshop (class)

Inspired by and incorporating ideas from her CoMISSION performance, 4 walls & 1 me, Taimy Ramos Velazquez leads a hybrid Zoom and in-person workshop for dancers, actors, performance, and multidisciplinary artists. Space is limited.

Sat, May 22, 5 pm – Making Worlds: A Conversation About Devising New Work (panel)

Co-MISSION artist Vanessa Valliere explores the challenges and freedoms of creating original, devised theater in both solo and group contexts. Featuring Quenna Barrett (Pivot Arts/Goodman Theatre), Jane Beachy (Illinois Humanities/Salonathon), Sarah Fornace (Manual Cinema), John Gregorio (Heifetz Institute/Dad’s Garage Theater), and Lindsey Noel Whiting (Lookingglass/ Actors Gym).

Saturday, May 29, 5 pm – Creative Practice: CoMISSION Artists at Work (panel)

CoMISSION artists Darling Shear (spring 2020), Kierah King (fall 2020), Elliot Reza Emadian (spring 2021) talk about the works they are premiering during the Festival of New Work, their experiences as CoMISSION artists, and developing new performances during a pandemic. 


The Festival is FREE, but those who are able are encouraged to purchase tickets to support artists fees. Suggested: $20 Full Price single performance, $15 Discount single performance, or Pay What You Can donation. A $50 Festival Pass ($80 value) provides access to all performances and artist talks.

Tickets, performance information, and links to the YouTube livestream can be found online:

Festival Performances

Elliot Reza Emadian’s MASCCHAOS (Sunday, May 23 & Thursday, May 27, 7 pm) Rendered via experimental video, improvisational dance practice, written archive, and photographic stills, MASCCHAOS imagines a choreographic microcosmos–from beginning to vibratory end. The artist is accompanied by costumes designed by Latina-futurist, Larissa Almanza, and the shared knowledge of a cohort of women, queer, and non-binary co-authors from across the United States. Emadian chronicles the practice of seeing, watching, and echoing, presenting a shared experience of dancing alone, together.

Kierah King’s *Viewership Intended for Re(Creational) use only* (Sunday, May 23 & Saturday, May 29, 7 pm) draws the viewer in as a witness to King and her ensemble’s call for Constitutional Convention as they investigate the idea of “A More Perfect Union.” Examining their own bodies & physicality and acknowledging what it means to be Seen in America through their own Constitution and on their terms, King’s ensemble asks: “Can a generation addicted to working for societal acceptance explore what it means to be Seen as an individual and in Uni(s)on as a Communal and Radical act?”

Hannah Michal Santistevan’s The Brink (Thursday, May 20 & Saturday May 29, 7 pm) demonstrates animosity and vigor through acts of dismissal, subtle moments of empathy, and durationally exhausted movements. A cast of dancers navigates the space in intricate patterns, with hidden sets of rules, emphasizing hierarchy and tribalism. The Brink questions how we learn or unlearn ideas of apathetic self-care, rather than focusing on immediate and individual success, to improve ourselves and connect with our communities. Choreographed by Hannah Santistevan, with contributions from the cast.

Darling Shear’s Beatitude (Friday, May 21 & Sunday, May 30, 7 pm) is a choreopoem exploring the Beat Generation and its related aesthetics. With movement, fashion, and poetry, Shear and ensemble recreate the spirit and percussive cadence of the movement and trace the influence of the Beats on contemporary performance and literary practices. Beatitude integrates contemporary and historical lenses, from Beat poetry to spoken word of the Black Arts Movement, including the media’s portrayal of Beatnik parody and stereotype.

Vanessa Valliere’s Pool Party (Saturday, May 22 & Thursday, May 27, 7 pm) Pipe & Drape (Vanessa Valliere & John Gregorio) are two characters making their way through life, doing their best, trying their hardest. Living in parallel dimensions and coping with a growing sense of unease, Pipe and Drape suspect there is something “out there” for them. But is it really for them? And is it safe? This work-in-progress uses puppetry, physical theater, and elements of clown to investigate themes of identity, risk, routine, moments of connection, and the search to see something that is right in front of you.

Taimy Ramos Velázquez’s 4 walls & 1 me (Saturday, May 22 & Friday, May 28, 7 pm) is a complicated layering of feelings and inconsistencies within the same human being, triggered by a very specific moment in time: Quarantine.

Cherrie Yu’s Trio A Translation Project (Thursday, May 20 & Friday May 28, 7 pm) gathers performers and their loved ones to engage in a collaborative translation of the historical choreographic work—Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A (1978). Incorporating rehearsal footage, filmed performances, and diary-style writing, the film offers a meditation on everydayness and performance. A Translation Project asks the questions, What can a body do? How can a body feel?

Artist Bios

Elliot Reza Emadian is a gender-nonconforming interdisciplinary artist, teacher, and scholar. Their work occurs in the intersection of dance and choreography,  video art and editing, sound and music, light and photography, and popular culture.

Kierah King graduated from Columbia College Chicago in May 2020 receiving her BFA in Dance with a Minor in Black World Studies. Kierah was homeschooled in Hartford, CT where she learned the power of service, education and creativity as central to life. Kierah advanced her studies at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts where she received her Arts Diploma, and then to Columbia College Chicago, where her passion for social justice, activism, and community building came through in different forms of performance and choreographic work. Kierah has presented work at the Centre National De La Danse in Pantin, France 2019. Premiered HA(B*tch)ually on the Columbia Dance Center stage in 2019 and again in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the American College Dance Association. Kierah last performed as a soloist in the Beyond The Bars Conference at Columbia University in New York 2020.

Hannah Michal Santistevan grew up in Colorado and relocated to Chicago in 2012. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2016 and has performed with esteemed local artists and companies since 2017. As Santistevan finds her voice and place as a dance artist in Chicago, she is consistently finding herself in collaboration with visual and sound artists inside and outside of the performance venue. Santistevan’s work often emanates a desperate journey to self-discovery through the lens of psychoanalysis, contemporary dance, and complimentary mediums. As for 2020-2021, she is in an ongoing collaboration with video installation artist, Yuge Zhou, and was a Co-MISSION 2021 resident at Links Hall where she will begin the early stages of creation for The Brink.

Darling Shear is a Chicago Native, but has roots in Atlanta where Darling started dance training. Darling attended North Springs Charter School of the performing arts where Darling was trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and African. Darling began dancing professionally right out of high school and in that time worked with many great choreographers. Highlights were working with Bubba Carr choreographer/artistic director to Cher for 12yrs and counting, Rhonda Henriksen soloist with Hubbard Street and Twyla Tharp, Tracy Vogt former Philadanco dancer, Hinton Battle the Original Scarecrow from the broadway production of “The Wiz,” and Lauri Stallings Hubbard street soloist and founder/artistic director of gloATL. Darling moved back to Chicago the summer of 2011 to start Suna Dance, a collaborative artist group and had the first performance in November of 2011. In 2018 Darling was chosen as the cover model and also quoted in Micah Salkind’s Oxford published book ‘Do you remember house? Chicago’s queer of  color underground’. Following, Darling received the Between Gestures scholarship to Austria to attend Impulstanz in Vienna, the Chicago Dancemakers Forum fellowship, and Links Hall CoMission Fellowship (2020), along with a 3Arts nomination (2019). Darlings career has been one with a strong spiritual center and allowance of universal well-being.

Vanessa Valliere is a performer, clown, and puppeteer who creates solo work. She has appeared in the International Puppetry Festival, several National Puppet Slams, DragonCon, and other venues and events across the US. Vanessa performs and tours with Manual Cinema and she was a member of an ensemble of clowns/performers/creators for the Tour De Fat Festival for six years. Vanessa was a rehearsal director and performer with Theater Unspeakable, and she is a proud nerd-cheerleader for Chicago’s thirty-piece circus punk marching band, Mucca Pazza.

Taimy Ramos Velázquez is a dancer/choreographer raised in Pinar del Río, Cuba. Taimy graduated from the National School of Dance in 2008 and became a company member of one of the most prestigious Havana-based Dance Companies: Danzabierta, led by the Spanish choreographer Susana Pous. With DanzAbierta, Taimy taught and danced in several international tours in major dance festivals around Europe and America for 8 years. In 2016 Taimy moved to the United States, where she has danced for Companies such as: Hedwig Dances and CDI Company. Taimy currently works as a freelance artist.

Cherrie Yu is a Chinese artist born in Xi’an in 1995. They currently live and make works in Chicago IL.

About the CoMISSION Residency Program

Links Hall’s 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 $2,000 per artist), artist stipends, individual and group coaching, performance presentation, opportunities to build audience engagement projects, and the Art of Rehearsal workshop series. Co-MISSION Fellowships include all of the above, plus five to six months of studio time (valued at approx. $4,800 per artist). This initiative is supported by Links Hall’s Commissioning Collective, a group of generous individuals who make a multi-year commitment to support direct-dollars-to-artists programs at Links Hall. For information about joining the Commissioning Collective, please contact Executive Director Stephanie Pacheco at


Links Hall encourages artistic innovation and public engagement by maintaining a facility and providing flexible programming for the research, development and presentation of new work in the performing arts.

Links Hall most effectively realizes its mission by serving as an artistic incubator and launch pad. Through its residency programs, artist-curated festivals, co-presentations with self-producing artists, cabarets, performance series, workshops and low-cost studio rentals, Links provides a home for artists across all performance disciplines, at all stages of their careers. Founded in 1978 by three experimental choreographers (Bob Eisen, Carol Bobrow and Charlie Vernon), Links Hall became a National Performance Network presenting partner in 1998 and received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2016. In April 2013, Links Hall and musician/presenter Mike Reed created a new collaborative arts venue as the shared home of Constellation Arts and Links Hall, at 3111 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood. For more information call 773.281.0824 or visit

Links Hall 2020-2021 programming is made possible by artists, audiences, and generous supporters including: The Arts Work Fund/Arts for Illinois Emergency Relief Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Heather Beth Henson Fund, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Links Hall Commissioning Collective, National Performance Network, The Charlie Vernon Performance Fund at the Evanston Community Foundation, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The Jentes Family Foundation, The League of Chicago Theatres, MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince, The Martha Struthers Farley & Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation, The Prince Charitable Trust, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Walder Foundation, The Richard L. and Lois S. Werner Family Foundation, and The Weasel Fund.

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