Renowned Japanese drumming ensemble Tao returns to Taiwan tonight and tomorrow with its own “brand of global entertainment” at Taipei Arena. The group, whose name in Chinese means “the way” or “the path,” has wowed audiences worldwide with epic performances that combine martial arts athleticism and waidaiko, or traditional Japanese drumming.
Since its breakthrough performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004, Tao has gained a strong following in Europe, where the group recently completed a four-month tour.
The group’s members were pleasantly surprised last year by the “power and reaction” they received from a 2,000-strong audience in Taipei, said the group’s producer, Ikuo Fujitaka, in a phone interview with the Taipei Times just after arriving at Taoyuan International Airport.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIA
“In Japan, people are very shy, and we expected a similar reaction in Taiwan [in comparison to European and American audiences],” said Fujitaka, speaking through his interpreter and Tao’s marketing manager Emma Sato.
Among Japanese wadaiko groups, Tao is considered an innovator for bringing a modern touch to its shows. The group incorporates elements of Western-style musicals in its music, which is adorned with a wide range of sounds, including bamboo flutes, the Japanese harp and marimba.
The group says its inspiration comes from Broadway and Las Vegas productions. Throughout their two-hour show, Tao’s drummers dance, spin, and jump across the stage — all the while playing a large drum strapped over their shoulders. The tight, synchronized choreography is enhanced by an elaborate stage design, lighting and special effects.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIA
But behind the style and flair, Tao takes a strict, traditional approach to training. The drummers live together in a near-monastic existence in their mountainous home of Kuju in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture. Their training emphasizes both physical and mental discipline: the group members start mornings with a 15km run, followed by two hours of physical training and then 10 hours of wadaiko practice.
The rigorous training in Kuju is the ultimate test for the world stage as Tao masters believe that the local residents must be satisfied with the trainees’ performances before they can be taken on the road, the group said in a press release. Kuju is also the inspiration for the themes of nature that feature in Tao’s shows.
Fujitaka said the group is excited about returning to the Taipei Arena, which is one of the biggest venues it has ever performed in as a headlining act. This weekend’s show will make full use of the arena, with a more spectacular stage setup than last year’s, he said.
And Taipei audiences will see Tao performing all new pieces, honed on tour in Europe and North America. “We want to make an even deeper impression than last time,” Fujitaka said.
What: Tao — Wadaiko Drumming Ensemble of Japan
Where: Taipei Arena (台北巨蛋), 2, Nanjing E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市南京東路四段2號)
When: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm
Details: NT$600 and NT$900 tickets are sold out; NT$1,200 to NT$3,500 tickets are available through ERA ticketing. Call (02) 2341-9898 or visit www.ticket.com.tw
On the Net: www.drum-tao.com
Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 If word got out that you were planning a wedding during the Martial Law era, the “Committee for the improvement of Folk Customs” (改善民俗實踐會) might knock on your door. Each borough in Taipei had at least one “agent” who kept a pulse on community happenings. They would visit the family planning the wedding with a letter from the mayor, touting the benefits of being frugal and not wasting money on lavish ceremonies, even encouraging the families to donate money for scholarships. The authorities also discouraged them from hiring musicians and dancers, who were often loud and
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a way urban households can obtain healthy produce, while helping to build a more sustainable farming sector in Taiwan. King Hsin-i’s (金欣儀) transformation from advertising copywriter to social entrepreneur began in 2008, when she visited a rice farmer who practiced pesticide-free agriculture. “He explained that we have to leave space for other species. At the same time, I realized that while big companies have budgets to spread their messages, farmers have few chances to tell the public about their beautiful concepts,” she recalls. Inspired, she quit her job and traveled throughout rural Taiwan for a year. King went
Every day before she starts her shift at a government hospital in Singapore, Farah removes her hijab — the Islamic veil she has worn since a teenager. Although minority Muslim women can freely wear the hijab in most settings in Singapore, some professions bar the headscarf — and a recent case has triggered fresh debate on diversity and discrimination in the workplace. Now Farah has joined a growing number of Muslims — who account for about 15 percent of Singapore’s 4 million resident population — calling for the ban to end, with an online petition gathering more than 50,000 signatures. “They told me
If ever there was a reason to be inside on Mid-Autumn Festival, even for just an hour or so, while still celebrating the natural world, Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) has provided one with his first full-length work for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) as artistic director, Sounding Light (定光). Judging by the excerpt performed for the press last week, Cheng shows he can be just as minimalistic as his mentor, troupe founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), while still forging his own unique path. Just as he did with last year’s Lunar Halo (毛月亮), his final work as director of Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2), Cheng