Quantum Monk

Event Type
Event Description
Quantum Monk is an interdisciplinary performance presenting dancer/choreographer Fujima Yoshinojo, with the sounds of prolific experimentalist artist and musician, Tatsu Aoki, and the impassioned stylings of Rami Atassi. “Makasho”, an Edo-period travelling monk, is originally a Japanese classical dance piece that presents a less than pious character, and has now been infused with more contemporary elements which balances the equation of advancing the exposition concept of Japanese classical dance in today’s differential environment.
How do the expectations of society transfer onto the human condition when we as humans embody the power of the contemporary vision of 'right and proper', 'religious and irreverent'?

Sponsored by Asian Improv aRts Midwest.
Special thanks to Grandmaster Fujima Shunojo.

Photo by Kioto Aoki

Asian Improv aRts Midwest
In 1984, Chicago artist and community leader Tatsu Aoki founded Innocent Eyes and Lenses (IEL) in response to the need for an organization that was dedicated to presenting Asian American artists and programs that were relevant to the community. Since then, IEL, an Illinois-based non-profit organization, has been a leading force in presenting the Asian American experience through the arts in Illinois.

A New Name
After 20 years of working as IEL, we made the decision to change our name from Innocent Eyes and Lenses to Asian Improv aRts Midwest in 2004. This change was made in order to reflect the community that IEL has been serving since its inception as well as to recognize the partnership that has been established with the San Francisco-based Asian Improv aRts. Founded by musician and community activist Francis Wong, Asian Improv aRts has been a leader in building community through the Asian American cultural arts on the West Coast for two decades and we are honored to be a part of the Asian Improv family.

AIRMW has had tremendous success in connecting artists, community organizations and the city's cultural institutions and has presented programs featuring world-class artistry while remaining rooted in the Chicago Asian American community. AIRMW has collaborated with and/or received support from organizations that include the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC), the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Illinois Arts Council, the Illinois Humanities Council, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Boeing Corporation, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago Foundation and Meet The Composer among many others.

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. He was born in Tokyo in 1957 to Toyaki Moto, an artisan family proficient in Okiya, the tradition of working as booking and training agents for geisha in downtown Tokyo. Starting at the age of four, Aoki was part of his family performance crew and received the essence of traditional Tokyo geisha cultural training and studies, which combine history with creativity. In the late 1960s, upon Tokyo’s economic and social decline, which forced many traditional family businesses to close, and his grandmother’s passing, he shifted his training 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 the same period, he started his work in small-gauge and experimental films, influenced by his biological father, who was a movie producer at Shintoho Studio.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo to study experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is adjunct Full Professor in the Film, Video and New Media Department and teaches film production and history. He also is a visiting professor at Northwestern University. He has produced more than thirty experimental films and is one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last twenty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which observes its twentieth year in 2015. Named President of San Francisco–based Asian Improv Records (AIR) in 1999, he has managed or produced more than forty AIR albums, notably the Max Roach and Jon Jang collaboration The Beijing Trio, and several projects in the hip-hop and Asian Pacific American arts arenas, from film screenings to concert series.

Aoki was named one of 2001’s "Chicagoans of the year" by Chicago Tribune 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 this year by the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and Jazz Heros’ Award by National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015.

Rami Atassi


Rami Atassi is a musician, improviser, and guitarist based in Chicago. His work is a combination of the technical and emotional, a balance of intellectual curiosity and visceral drive. Through guitar and electronics he finds an outlet for his endless fascination with harmony, texture, space, and feeling. Over the last decade he has recorded, played, and toured with a diverse group of musicians, including: The Caleb Willitz Band, Tatsu Aoki, Ed Wilkerson, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Mike Staron, Ryan Suzuka & Blow Wind Blow, Jeff Breakey, Rob Reid, Bassel & the Supernaturals.
Fujima Yoshinojo
Fujima Yoshinojo – is a Chicago-area native, and has been a Japanese classical dance practitioner for over twenty-five years. She received her professional name in 2006 as a member of the Fujima Ryu Japanese Classical Dance School in Japan. The performance name, or natori, is a major milestone for a practitioner of the Japanese cultural arts. In February 2016, she passed her grandmaster exam in Japan and has attained the level of shihan (teaching license). She also continues to develop her artistry working with Asian Improv aRts Midwest and Toyoaki Shamisen, and has choreographed and performed in collaborations with Tsukasa Taiko, Bellisima Productions, Yoko Noge's Japan-esque, and Tatsu Aoki's "Miyumi Project" concerts, and the annual "Taiko Legacy" and "Reduction" performances at the MCA.


Dance Styles
Traditional/Indigenous Dance


Links Hall

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