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Asimina Chremos

Zachary Whittenburg: What are your connections to Links Hall’s founders?

Asimina Chremos: I am most close to Bob Eisen, since by the time I came to Chicago Carol Bobrow and Charlie Vernon were on to other adventures. Bob was still running the place pretty much on his own when I arrived in late 1996, and through him I began renting studio space at Links. Eventually we collaborated on a series of duets called A+B, and I danced in a couple of his group works, too. I feel I learned a lot from Bob’s example about how to be a solo improviser, which is my main creative focus now in dance.

Do you recall your first visit to Links Hall? What was the occasion?

When I was visiting Chicago to see if I wanted to move here, I remember eating lunch at Penny’s Noodles nearby and seeing the Links building. Somehow I recognized the name. No doubt I had heard or read the name in my doings as an artist. I tried to get in and take a look, but no-one was home. I’m not sure when I first entered the place. One of my first gigs in Chicago was to stage manage for Lin Shook/Perceptual Motion. That may have been the first time.

When did you first perform at Links? Can you describe the experience?

Wow. I really have no idea! It may have been through Field Trips . . .

When you became Artistic Director at Links Hall in 2000, what from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, in addition to three years in Chicago, did you find had prepared you the most?

As a very young dancer in Pittsburgh I was a member of a ballet company that was unionized through AGMA. That presented a model of how artists’ own time, work and wellbeing can be valued and respected. I also had examples from programs I’d participated in as a choreographer in Philly, namely the Choreographer’s Project at Susan Hess Studio and the Independent Performing Artists Program at the Community Education Center. From these I gained an understanding from the artist’s point of view how such work-studio-venue sites could be operated to nurture creative exploration in the dance field.

Is there a single program or series during your tenure at Links that you’re most proud of?

I’m most proud of the LinkUp program. I put that in place and am so pleased that it has continued, and developed. Before I was Artistic Director, I rented Links Hall for an annual weekend called The Ladylike Performance Festival. That was a lot of fun, and it presented artists from Chicago and beyond whose work addressed themes of feminism, femininity and drag. That ran for about 3 or 4 years.

Who from that time was/were your “right hand(s)”?

I was fortunate to work with Pam Linnell and Selene Carter when I first was officially hired at Links. Interns Jessica Burton and Natalie Bogira did stellar work.

You continue to attend and produce work at Links regularly; this October you’ll perform, with Pillars and Tongues, in the opening of Collision Theory (a performance series guest-curated by Rachel Damon and Dan Mohr). It much be a very rich space for you artistically.

Links Hall remains accessible and affordable to artists who work on a small scale financially. That is key.

Interview conducted via email August 28, 2009, and edited by Zachary Whittenburg.

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