Presents “Mai Ougi” with Tatsu Aoki’s Reduction Ensemble


“Mai Ougi”

The dance fan represents the soul of the dancer. It is an interdisciplinary performance mixing the traditional with experimental, the past and the present. A courtesan dancer must go and perform in the camp of the enemy warlord general so that she might have one more glimpse of her lover, captured and imprisoned as the general of the opposing side. Inspired by this classical Japanese Dance piece, Mai Ougi provides the audience with eastern and western musical exposition and the clash between expected societal constructs with the expression of human emotion. Yoshinojo Fujima joins the creative forces of experimental and classical musicians, Japanese and Classical instruments, and Neo-classical with Nihon Buyo dance to create a new stratum of experience that proclaims its stance for Asian American Artists with the woman as a focal point.

Musicians: Tatsu Aoki, Jamie Kempkers, KIOTO, and Lori Ashikawa
Koken (Stage Assistants) : Joan Ambo, Erin Ikeuchi
Kimono Costuming: Grandmaster Shunojo Fujima

“Mai Ougi” is sponsored by

Supported by Asian Improv aRts Midwest and the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago and are supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, Corbett, Duncan & Hubly pc, JCCC Foundation, CityArts and The Joyce Foundation.

Special thanks to Grandmaster Shunojo Fujima and Kay Kawaguchi

Yoshinojo Fujima

Chicago-area native, Yoshinojo Fujima (a.k.a Rika Lin) is an interdiscplinary performing artist, based as a Japanese classical dancer/choreographer. She received her professional name in 2006 as a member of the Fujima Ryu Japanese Classical Dance School in Japan, and attained her grandmastership last year, which certifies her with a shihan (teaching license). She has performed as an active performing member of Toyoaki Shamisen, as well as in collaborations with Asian Improv aRts MidWest, Tsukasa Taiko, Tatsu Aoki’s the Miyumi Project and was featured in the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival at the J. Pritzker Pavillion. In 2016 she was awarded the Links Hall Artistic Associate Curatorial Residency for the 2017 season, for her “Beyond the Box” presentation/series. Currently she is beginning her research for “Asobi – Playing within Time” project as a 2017 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist.

Tatsu Aoki’s Reduction Ensemble

Tatsu Aoki

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.
In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which celebrated its twentieth year in 2015.
Aoki was named one of 2001’s “Chicagoans of the year” by Chicago Tribune for his music for his cross cultural music and has performed with masters such as Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and the late Chicago legend Fred Anderson. Aoki’s suite ROOTED: Origins of Now, a four-movement suite for big band, premiered in 2001 at Ping Tom Memorial Park, and was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and at MCA Stage as part of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. Additional notable releases include Basser Live (1999) and Basser Live II (2005), recorded live at MCA Stage; The MIYUMI Project (2000), Symphony of Two Cities (2002), and Posture of Reality with Wu Man (2003). The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts. In 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the “Living in our Culture” award by the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and the Jazz Heroes’ Award by the National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. In 2016, his Miyumi Project ensemble was the official musical presenter for the unveiling of Yoko Ono’s “SKYLANDING” installation in Chicago’s own Jackson Park; which also resulted in the group recording the “SKYLANDING” album produced by Yoko Ono. In 2017 this year, the group contributed their unique vibe to the soundtrack of the film documentary addressing the Japanese American Incarceration, “And Then They Came for Us”. Additional accolades include Aoki’s own film “LIGHT”, which he directed, which was awarded the Best Experimental Film in the 2017 Canada International Film Festival. And most recently, he was selected by the Asian American Advisory Council of Illinois and received the Community Service Award from the Illinois Secretary of State; and he also received the prestigious Commendation for the Promotion of Japanese Culture from the Foreign Ministry in Japan, which is given to individuals with outstanding achievements in international fields, and acknowledges the recipients’ contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries.

Jaime Kempkers

An experimental cellist, Jaime Kempkers was a former student of classical cello repertoire who finds creative fulfillment in improvisation and compositional experimentation in collaborative and solo work.

He studied cello with Dr. Robert Ritsema and recording with John Erskine at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has been living in Chicago, playing improvised and/or experimental music since 2001. Past and current collaborators include, Tatsu Aoki, Jonathan Chen, Grandmaster Yoshinojo Fujima, and Dawei Wang.

Lori Ashikawa

Lori Ashikawa is a violinist with the Joffrey Ballet orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, and Chicago Opera Theater and has performed with Music of the Baroque, Chicago Symphony, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, and Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters. Lori specializes in early music performance on the baroque violin, and was a member of the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra and the Chicago period ensemble Baroque Band for 9 years. She currently plays baroque violin with the Haymarket Opera Company. Lori is a shamisen student of Tatsu Aoki and lives in Chicago with a husband, two cats, and a garden full of scorpion peppers.


Kioto Aoki is a taiko artist and core member of Tsukasa Taiko, a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest. She has been playing taiko since the age of 7 and often shares the stage with AACM members Avreeayl Ra, Mwata Bowden and Ed Wilkerson Jr. At professional venues in Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Harris Theater, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, as well as Elastic Arts and Constellation. Kioto is a recipient of the Ethnic and Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program from the Illinois Arts Council and recent projects include Yoko Ono’s Skylanding Project in Jackson Park.