Odaiko New England

The Makings of a Great Taiko Performance: Attitude

This past weekend was a whirlwind of taiko events, and has already been written about in one or two other blog posts. However, being the sort of person I am, who always has to insert her opinion into the conversation, I’m writing yet another. Enjoy!

For me, the weekend stressed the importance of Attitude in performance. We performed at the University of Hartford’s International Gala Saturday night. As we rehearsed Matsuri during the previous week, one word was emphasized over and over again: Boisterous. Matsuri is a boisterous song, all about having fun and sharing that fun with the audience. Our amazing Tanya on chappa boistered (is that a word?) everyone into having a great time at U Harftord. Just see that grin in the video!

After the Gala, we packed up our stuff and rushed to Stamford to see Taiko Project, hosted by Otatsu-taiko. It goes without saying that the taiko and the musicality was awesome. But, what really stuck with me was the history, especially the piece “From the Inside/Outside”, in which the Greats of the Japanese taiko world are projected on a huge screen over the stage as they talk about American taiko.

I bought my shime-daiko from Asano-san himself while I was in Japan with the KASA/MIX tour in September 2008, so listening to Yasuo Asano of Asano Taiko had extra meaning for me:

American taiko players seem like they … emphasize “enjoying themselves” onstage which in turn makes us (the audience) enjoy the performance. I think that’s great.

That’s our Matsuri in a nutshell 🙂

Then Tosha Kiyonari, one of the original members of Sukeroku Taiko, sitting there in his Hawaiian shirt and talking about performance costumes, instructs us:

If you can wear something well, then people will think that you’re good. Even if you suck.

I hope that we don’t suck. But, yes, it’s all about “wearing” the piece well.

Mark H. Rooney, our ever-inspired Artistic Director, talked to us just yesterday about playing on slant stands. In addition to always being boisterous, he reminded us that the reason the founders of these styles claim to have developed them was to “pick up chicks”.

Of course, you can also ask Juni, our amazingly talented Assistant Artistic Director, why we do push-ups during every taiso. Is it so we can be strong? NO – it’s so we look cool! Just check out Karen’s biceps!

Regardless of whether “chicks” are your target, a good taiko performance is all about impressing people.

1 comment to The Makings of a Great Taiko Performance: Attitude

  • I agree about the “attitude”. Someone have a very high technical ability and be a totally boring performer. Part of being “cool” is acting cool.

    I’m visiting your blog for the first time today and I’m enjoying it.