From June 15-17, we had our first creative residency with Chieko Kojima, Kodo’s principal dancer, and whom many would consider the foremost female taiko drummer in the world. Last summer, in 2014, we had the opportunity to present a short collaboration with Chieko at our Taiko Nation concerts, and after that, Chieko sent word to us that she was interested in working further with us, and we couldn’t say no to that!

Opening Aisatsu with Chieko

Opening Aisatsu with Chieko

We spent three days reshaping a show based on the “Dojoji” legend to fit with TP’s repertoire and artists. One of the primary changes from other versions of this show that she has done with other taiko groups is that Yumi, TP’s principal dancer/choreographer, will be playing a key character role in the production alongside Chieko.

Chieko and Yumi start fan work

Chieko and Yumi start fan work

Chieko recently completed a year-long photo book project where she evoked scenes of the story of Kiyohime throughout the seasons and throughout Sado Island. The book is quite stunning and beautiful.

Chieko shows us her new Kiyohime photo book

Chieko shows us her new Kiyohime photo book

The show will feature several TP songs adapted for the story, as well as new musical works. Of course, Chieko will perform many of her signature dances, including Hana Hachijo, and a dance with an umbrella which (in rehearsal) was breathtaking. I will never look at an umbrella quite the same way!

Chieko explains a little about Hana Hachijo

Chieko explains a little about Hana Hachijo

And I was happy to host Chieko at our house, where Amelia immediately took to “Aunty Chieko.” Also, Chieko was fascinated by Amelia’s play kitchen.

Chieko is fascinated by Amelia's play kitchen

Chieko is fascinated by Amelia’s play kitchen

All in all, it was a successful residency, and we are super-excited about continuing to collaborate with Chieko and to present the completed work next October, 2016! Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Hey, Hi and Hello TP Blog readers!

 

TAIKOPROJECT has been pretty busy so far this summer with many different gigs so I’d like to apologize for my late blog post! First and foremost, thank you to those of you who came out to watch our Rhythmic Relations 2015 show at the Freud Playhouse at UCLA, I hope you enjoyed the show and we are so proud of our student groups, Bombu Taiko and Kitsune Taiko, that performed along side us. The show was a testament to the new work TAIKOPROJECT is creating and we definitely had a great time performing for you! Unfortunately I digress and I am here to report on a performance we had in Anaheim, Ca for the NACE Conference and Expo.

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Making our way out back, walking fast, making faces, and we’re van bound!

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Teching on stage with the fancy lighting!

On June 2nd, TAIKOPROJECT was invited to perform as an opening session performance for the attendees of the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Conference and Expo. For this gig we had Masato, Courtney, Liz, Blaine, Audrey and myself as the cast and we were very excited to perform. The presenter had some interesting ideas for us to enter the performance area so once we all arrived we had to learn some last minute choreography for our performance. For the first part of performance we played Here We Go Now! and Many Sides. Both songs went extremely well and they also had some amazing lighting for the event so I think it really added to our performance on stage. After our first performance we had a little break until we lead the attendees down into the expo area after the morning talks. We played Tsuki E while traveling down the halls of the hotel which to prove more difficult than I realized. All the attendees gave us a round of applause and words of praise as they made their way into the expo and one person said, “I wasn’t sure if it was my coffee or the drumming, but I sure am awake now!”

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TP newest talent to add to our resume, SHADOW ART!

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The TP team! (Doug, Audrey, Liz, Courtney, Maz, and Blaine!)

 

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IN THE STUDIO WHEEEE

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Yumi with the Dodger Dog! I’m hungry, now.

Hello TP blog readers! Audrey here, reporting about our recent feature on KCAL 9 where we promoted our Rhythmic Relations show! With bright eyes (with or without contacts), we loaded in at the CBS studio earlyyyy on the morning of May 31. From TP, we had Bryan, David, Yumi, Liz, Kelvin, Blaine, and myself, and Kitsune’s Clarissa and Bombu’s Kerry were there too to represent their groups!

We were going to be live on-air at 8:40AM so we got ready in a conference room on the side. When it was close to our performance time, we quiiiiietly set up in the studio while climatologist Amber Lee gave her report. I had never been on set at a live studio before… It was really neat to see what goes on behind the scenes. Did you know the cameras are automated and move on their own?? WHAT.

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Getting ready!

We played a short arrangement of our song “The Stroll” which is a teaser of what is to come at our Rhythmic Relations show on June 27!! We’ve been practicing non-stop in preparation for the show… IT’S GOING TO BE AWESOME. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, call or visit the UCLA Central Ticket Office at (310) 825-2101, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm or purchase online via www.tickets.ucla.edu (under Special Events). Hope to see you there! Thanks for having us, KCAL!!

Smiles all around!

Look, Ma! I’m on TV!

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Thanks for having us!

 

Last Thursday, we performed for the Shimadzu Corporation Open House. Shimadzu opened a new building in Long Beach so they invited customers to tour the building. Maz and David played a short piece to gather everyone together for the start of the program. Then later in the program, Bryan, Blaine, and I joined in and performed. It was a lot of fun performing for this event. We had a lot of people, including the staff, come up to us after the performance and say that they really enjoyed it. I even had some ladies come up to me and say that they were envious of me. They said that they couldn’t imagine playing taiko and wished that they could do what we do.

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Somehow it’s June already, and with it come many more performances including Rhythmic Relations 2015 on 6/27), projects, and…gloom.

This year, June also brought with it another opportunity to perform at Sony’s Samurai Awards ceremony.  The Samurai Award is an extremely prestigious award given to Sony employees and TaikoProject has been honored to perform at the ceremony for several years running now.  In this case, Maz, Janelle, and I (David) drove down to balmy San Diego for the event.

While the group usually performs an arrangement of Many Sides, on this occasion they asked us to switch it up a little, which we happily obliged.  The tech crew for the event does an amazing job creating an air of anticipation and suspense with the lighting, so to accompany this atmosphere, I played some kabuki-inspired rhythms on okedo while Maz and Janelle processed down the aisle toward the stage; Maz beautifully matched the feeling of the moment with his fue playing and Janelle —

You know, to be honest, it was sort of dark (suspensefully!), so I’m not exactly sure what Janelle was doing, but she’s a dancer, so I’m sure it was beautiful, too.  After this intro, we played a short version of Omiyage to great audience response.  The CEO of the company and his wife were sitting directly in front of us for the performance!

We had a great time performing for all of the hard-working employees in attendance.  Looking forward to the next time!

PS It was also Janelle’s 21st birthday, so Maz and I took her to a local bar to celebrate!  The bartender was very sweet and made Janelle a delicious drink on the house.

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Default lighting for the event. Pretty cool setup!

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Rubber band ball? That is, like, so 1992.

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Speaking of 1992, Janelle wasn’t even born then. Sheesh. Anyway, Maz and I are talking sports because we are manly men.

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No trip to San Diego is complete without.

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