Beyond the Box

37 3Arts supporters
$5,180 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on December 14, 2018
    • 104% contributed

As a contemporary performer trained in the centuries-old art form of Japanese classical dance, I have an ambitious goal of expanding this legacy practice with new performance techniques and modern ideas of identity. Beyond the Box is a series of dance performances I have organized for the past three years that revolve around perceptions of time, space, and gender using the traditional aesthetics of Kabuki Theater and Japanese classical dance (nihon buyo). The artistic conventions enveloping these art forms have provided beautiful structural boundaries that spawned from the culture of Edo period Japan (1603-1868). However, continuing adherence to strict traditional presentation complicates any significant expansion of the art form that would make it more relevant and powerful today. With this project, I hope to take creative steps to change that. I have many ideas that I am eager to research and develop in collaboration with a group of musicians and dancers, which will culminate in a new performance entitled Beyond the Box III. These creative components will include integrating contemporary instrumentation with traditional Japanese music, staging the work in an intimate setting that breaks the ‘fourth wall,’ and incorporating live puppetry that draws upon Japanese and contemporary styles. Your support for this project will enable us to transform this living traditional art form and make it applicable to the 21st century as it addresses ideas of power, the presentation of women, and the perception of self.

About This Project

About 30 years ago I started down a path of tradition. Born and raised in Chicago by postwar immigrant parents, my identity as a Japanese-American woman was forged from the optimistic determination to “live in America,” but also pounded into its present form by many events and interactions which did not allow for benign assimilation.  In an interesting parallel, Japanese classical dance is rooted in a strict Kabuki foundation, which means the dancer cannot ask “why.” Rather, the movements are taught and must be replicated and performed the way they were written 400 years ago. The original concept of Japanese classical dance was directly related to its connection to society and the Edo period. The characters of women—their movements, their thoughts, their representation—were written and performed by men. What should it matter that it is now the 21st century?

As an artist, I could not honorably breach this wall before attaining my stage name (a final step in training) and then also passing the Grandmaster certification examination. This now gives me the artistic license to evolve the art. With this project, my goal is to transform this tradition's complicated representation of women and power. The concepts I want to explore involve the major facets of Japanese classical dance: music, make-up, costume, and the stage using a new canvas with a constructive premise.

The Music: Traditional Japanese music and creative musicians will be integrated.  The three-stringed lute, or shamisen, is considered to be an integral part of the presentation of Japanese classical dance. Aesthetically, the music provides a foundation for the piece. Integrating contemporary instrumentation and creative musicians with traditional Japanese dance and music will open up a new dimension.

The Stage: Historically, the Japanese classical dance audience is viewing the stage ‘from afar.’ The staging of the dance in Beyond the Box on an intimate contemporary stage will allow the audience to experience the performance in a new context to make the performance a more integrated, personal experience, instead of a spectacle to be observed.

The Dancer/The Puppet: Classical Japanese dance typically focuses on a solo performer.  The addition of collaborator, Tom Lee, a leading Chicago puppeteer with traditional and contemporary training, will completely transform this aspect of the performance. The exchange between musicians, dancers, and the puppeteer and puppet will allow for exploration into different choreographic styles, aesthetics, and stylistic presentations. Experimentation with other variables, such as the dancers’ costume and make-up, will be explored to engage the audience, add new perspective to the roles and characters being portrayed, and further transform this traditional art form.

Several bonds exist throughout traditional Japanese arts practice. There is a bond between the music and the dancer/puppet; there is a bond that is passed down from generation to generation from master to apprentice; and there is the bond with the tradition itself. I have been training and learning from my dance teacher (Fujima Shunojo) for over 26 years, and with my Japanese lute teacher (Toyoaki Sanjuro) for 10 years. Tom Lee has studied with grandmaster Koryu Nishikawa V of the kuruma ningyo (literally “cart puppetry”) Japanese puppetry tradition for over ten years. This lineage and transmission of knowledge is necessary in the traditional Japanese arts context.  Beyond the Box III will take a focused look at these bonds and their significance using kuruma ningyo as the catalyst.

Your investment in this project will enable us to transform this living traditional art form and make it applicable to the 21st century. Thank you for your support!

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Personal thank you on social media or handwritten postcard ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $35
    Above, plus your name acknowledged in the program brochures ($35.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    All of the above, plus a signed poster from the cast ($47.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75
    All of the above, plus a 2-CD gift set: Tatsu Aoki’s Reduction Ensemble, "Miyumi Project Raw and Alive I" ($58.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $125
    All of the above, plus “And Then They Came for Us” soundtrack on CD and 2 tickets to a "Beyond the Box" premiere performance ($70.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above, plus a private lesson by Yoshinojo Fujima ($145.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $300
    All of the above, plus private Kabuki makeup session with traditional face imprint as a momento ($95.00 is tax deductible.)

Rika Lin (aka Yoshinojo Fujima)

Reva and David Logan Foundation Award

Rika Lin (aka Yoshinojo Fujima) (she/her) is a shin-nisei, a part of postwar Japanese American diaspora, and an interdisciplinary performing artist, dancemaker, and Grandmaster in Fujima style Japanese classical dance. An active member of Asian Improv aRts Midwest, she is …

View Rika Lin (aka Yoshinojo Fujima)'s profile
  • Update 1: Rehearsals Underway ~ Dance Lessons
    Posted on November 01, 2018


    Thank you to everyone who has donated to the “Beyond the Box” project so far!  We are about to close in on the 1/3 mark and earn our match from 3Arts!!

    Here is an image from a recent rehearsal. We are very inspired and excited at how the work is developing. If you know of anyone who may be interested in supporting this project, please spread the word.

    Yoshinojo Fujima


    Japanese classical dancer rehearsing with puppet

    Update 2: ~ We Earned the Match! ~
    Posted on November 04, 2018


    Very excited to report~  thanks to our early donors, we just passed the 1/3 mark and earned the match from 3Arts! I am grateful for everyone’s support and encouragement!

    Update 3: Upcoming Performances!
    Posted on March 26, 2019


    Beyond the Box III is well underway and continues to develop, simmer, and 'mature', thanks to 3AP campaign support!

    We performed various excerpts of the piece at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival in January and will be part of "LinkSircus" and the April Fool's edition of "Nasty, Brutish, and Short" (a puppet cabaret), at Links Hall.

    "LinkSircus – Celebrating 40 Years"
    Links Hall
    March 30, 2019 at 7:20p.m.

    Produced by Third Way Projects, LinkSircus--Celebrating 40 Years is an installation-style evening of dancing and celebration in multiple spaces by multiple people doing curious things. It features visual art by Tom Melvin and is curated by Bob Eisen (co-founder of Links Hall) and Bonnie Brooks (director of Third Way Projects).


    Asimina Chremos
    Bob Eisen + Jessica Cornish
    Honey Pot Performance
    J'Sun Howard + Jennifer Karmin
    Kristina Isabelle
    Yoshinojo Fujima + Tom Lee + Tatsu Aoki
    Same Planet Performance Project
    The Seldoms
    Zephyr Dance

    "Nasty, Brutish, and Short"
    Links Hall
    April 1, 7:00p.m. and 9:00p.m.

    "Nasty Brutish & Short" is an evening of contemporary, short-form puppet and object-based theater for adult audiences. The cabaret is a low-risk environment for artists to perform new and experimental work and foster artistic exchange between puppet artists of different generations and mediums.

    Tom Lee and Rika Lin (Yoshinojo Fujima) perform a short excerpt of their new dance puppetry collaboration for Beyond the Box III: "Suji -Lines of Tradition" with music by Tatsu Aoki. Suji, which premieres in May at Links Hall, uses Fujima style classical dance, Kuruma ningyo- style puppetry, and an immersive stage design to explore the study practice of traditional performance as contemporary artists.

    Beyond the Box title graphic

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Curtis Ikeuchi

    • kiku hibino

    • Jennifer Oatfield

    • Kiku Taura

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • wendy Clinardt

    • Jean Fujiu

    • Rina Wong-Lin

    • Mike Takada

    • Cheryl Yuen

    • Chisako Takayama

    • Sandra Inouye

    • Janis K. Wollam

    • Jo Ann C. King

    • Yuriko Saito

    • kayoko kawaguchi

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Moses Nang

    • Bryan Robson

    • Billie Howard

    • Emiko Ishikawa

    • Alice & George Towata

    • Lori Ashikawa

    • Kevin Okazaki

    • Cary Shoda

    • Randall West

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • David & Joan Takada

    • Roslyn Hoffman

    • Rose Parisi

    • Jim Spencer

    • Debbie Buscato

    • Ginger Lane

    • Carol Ruth Kimmel

    • Helen Nagata

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3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council