“Kodo in June” by Tomohiro Mitome
June 1, 2015
Hello, everyone! I hope that you are well.
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.
June has begun. The sun’s rays are getting stronger and the forests on Sado are such a vivid green. I feel the power of Mother Nature through this intensity.
Until a few years ago, I spent spring traveling around Japan with the “Kodo One Earth Tour” performances, from the beginning of May until the end of June. When I would come back to Sado in June, I was always taken aback by the changes in nature between my departure and my return. As we passed through the dense gauntlet of trees to reach Kodo Village, I’d feel at home before we had even arrived.
Thanks to all of your support, May concluded on a high note after our successful “Amaterasu” performances at Shochiku-za Theatre in Osaka. Thank you very much to all of you who attended the performances. The previous encore performances were held two years ago, so this time even more young, new members joined the cast. I think “Amaterasu” provided them with such valuable experiences: they rose to the challenge of tackling new parts and instruments, and they were able to perform on stage with Kabuki luminary Tamasaburo Bando.
Around the same time, we held the fourth annual “Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island” near Kodo Village in the historic Shukunegi area. The cast was centered around Kodo’s distinguished members and also featured our new junior members, so there was a large age gap between the cast members (more than a generation!). These performances were a great opportunity for our junior members to learn from our senior members.
From June 10 to 15, our “DADAN 2015” performances will take place at Asakusa Public Hall in Tokyo. This year is the third year for Kodo to have a series of performances at Asakusa Public Hall in June. Thanks to warm local support, Kodo’s performances in Asakusa have gradually started to take root.
“DADAN,” which means “men drumming,” premiered in 2009. This production features an all-male cast of seven performers in a bold exploration of pure non-stop physical percussion. Dadan marked the first time for Kodo to adopt professional hair styling, makeup, and a new style of costume.
Dadan also introduced the use of a giant screen, which shows performers filmed by a fellow performer live on stage. This allows the audience to watch aspects of the stage that cannot usually be seen, such as the drummer beating the base rhythm on the back side of the big drum, the firmly-anchored legs of the performers as they drum, and all the beads of sweat. By showing these elements, the impact of the performance is doubled. Dadan was a turning point for Kodo to forge ahead in new directions, not only visually, but also in terms of musical expression. For Dadan, we incorporated instruments other than drums, such as Javanese kempul, and we broadened our range to create not only powerful sounds but also delicate forms of expression.
Dadan has held encore performances almost every year since its premiere. In 2012, we had four sold-out performances at Théatre du Châtelet in Paris, France, followed by a tour in Japan. In 2014, Dadan went on a summer festival tour in Spain and France. Through all of these performances, Dadan has been continually evolving.
The 2014 Dadan tour in Europe featured new pieces and a new cast. For “DADAN 2015” at Asakusa Public Hall, this formation will expand with additional cast members. As time goes by, the programme is becoming deeper and more refined. I hope that you will come along and enjoy this year’s Dadan performances in June!
June 10–15 “DADAN 2015” in Asakusa, Tokyo