SET FREE Volume 3

Event Type
Event Description

As part of Links Hall's 40th anniversary, The Watering Can, produced by Jessica Marasa, presents the culminating showcase for the SET FREE Volume 3 series. SET FREE supports the progression of creative work through performance. It provides independent movement artists repeated access to space where their work can be shown, shared and revisited throughout its development. In recognizing that public performance can deliver different discoveries than those found in the studio, SET FREE creates the possibility for one’s studio and performance practices to be interwoven as the project progresses over time. This series is interested in increasing influence and overlapping appreciation among emerging and experienced artists working within the structures of SET composition and FREE improvisation. *Emma Draves has been a resident artist and curated 2013’s Braiding Rivers Festival. Keisha Janae performed in the 2015 world premiere of “Touch My Beloved’s Thought” and as part of the 2016 Amsterdam-Berlin-Chicago: Capitals of Improvisation Festival at Links. Julia Mayer first performed at Links in the 1990s, produced her “Coffee Dance” series as a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, and performed in both Chicago and Amsterdam as part of the 2016 Amsterdam-Berlin-Chicago: Capitals of Improvisation. SET FREE is Tara Aisha Willis’ debut at Links Hall.

Volume 3 Participating Artists Include:
Emma Draves
Keisha Janae
Julia Mayer
Tara Aisha Willis
**NOTE-- Emma and Tara perform Thursday & Friday ; Keisha and Julia perform Saturday & Sunday.**

Emma Draves - "What Follows" - "What Follows" is a companion piece for "Listen", the work Emma has been developing over the course of the past year in collaboration with Andy Slavin. Emma explains, "Working with Andy has been a new adventure and we have spent months developing rehearsal processes and a working relationship that is honest, artistically challenging, and exciting. I am doing my best to immerse myself within movement, a combination of kinesthetic narrative and task, and eschew impulses to achieve goals or create spectacle. My goal is to create movement that manifests from the changeable self of each individual in a working environment where each dancer feels seen, respected, awakened, galvanized. During the course of Set Free, I will spend time working on a duet for Andy and I, as well as bring in new dancers each month on which to set solo movement pieces. At each month's performance, we will offer up the working process of the Duet, as well as a new Solo.

Keisha Janae - "I am digging I am haunting" - This piece is about a digging process. It is the exploration in finding peace with our shadow. Our body, Our mind, Our spirit, our being are unknown. We are made up of everything black. We are not the format of everything darkness. We are darkness. Keisha will also be working on a duet work with artist Dedrick Gray where the two co-create a work that allows the audience to be witnesses to the process of research between the identity of a black woman and black man and their experiences. Involved within this process is the investigation of the whole body of blackness (past, present, future). We will also rediscover our power by dissecting the body of blackness and placing futuristic elements on top of the past and present. 

Julia Mayer - "Left Off"- is Julia's homage to her mother, Karen; a reflection on her life and her death; a reckoning with my grief; and a way for me to share the process. Julia interweaves stories and images of her memories of her mother as a physical being (first while Julia was growing up, and later when her mother was dying). The stage is strewn with books as Julia attempts to abstract her mother's very methodical process of randomly reading a new poem to start each day with attention and compassion. In movement, stories, and composition, Julia relies on intuition and memory to guide her. Julia explains, "I am drawing from a deeper emotional well than I am used to. It has been rich, unfamiliar soil. The piece is grounded by the presence of collaborating performers, JulieAnn Graham and Jules Hopkins.

Tara Aisha Willis - "Bertha" - Through tightly structured movement improvisation scores, "Bertha" builds a density of present-tense and strangely historical sensation across a memory-plagued, physically emotional landscape. Forming a tense sonic architecture of oldschool boomboxes around both dancers and audience, this choreography combatively layers familiar song structures and broken remnants that bubble up in our bodies, moving at the fissures between ourselves, each other, assumed personas, and recollected emotional states. A sensory search for the textures between beats and for what lays beyond the audible surface produces a terrain of movement and affects that allows us to distill emotional shifts as somatic tensions and releases.

Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary


Links Hall

3111 N. Western Ave. at Constellation
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 281-0824