Kodo & “Les Nuits de Fourvière”
Melanie Taylor, who looks after Kodo’s translation and English public relations, toured internationally with Kodo from 2008 – 2012. She was one of the company managers on “Kodo One Earth Tour 2009: ekkyo – transborder,” which gave performances in ten countries around Europe from May through July 2009. Here are some of her memories from Kodo’s 2009 experience performing at Lyon’s long-running festival “Les Nuits de Fourvière,” where Kodo “DADAN” will perform later this month.
Article & photos by Melanie Taylor. Video by Les Nuits de Fourvière.
Kodo visited Lyon, France, in June 2009 during its rare overseas summer “One Earth Tour” to perform at festival “Les Nuits de Fourvière.” It was a little over halfway through our 9-week-long tour , and we had performed at a range of theaters, including magnificent concert halls in Rome, London, and Munich; a 5000-seat sports stadium in Zagreb, a 4000-seat outdoor amphitheater in Istanbul… so we were ready for anything. But the ancient Roman theater at Fourvière was unforgettable and the festival and its audiences stand out for me as a highlight of that tour.
It was the first time for Kodo to perform in Lyon and we arrived the day before our own performances. We were invited to watch “West Side Story” at the same theater that we would perform at for the next two nights. The summer heat and the late sunset meant that the performances, both theirs and ours at least, started at 9:30pm, which meant the sun would set during the performance. We entered the Roman amphitheater and I remember being amazed by the massive size of the arena and the history of the place. Coming from New Zealand, where we have trees older than any buildings, anything ancient and man-made really has an extra impact on me. We heard that it was the first time for the cast of “West Side Story” to perform outdoors, and this stage had three memorable features, or challenges: Roman relics on stage (which could not be covered up or moved or touched), wind, and a collaboration of stage lighting and natural lightning. As we watched, props and costumes moved in the breeze, which ranged from gentle to invigorating and actually moving small stage items about. The temperature changed as the sun went down and the moon rose during the performance. At the end of the performance, the audience was on its feet applauding the finale of six shows of the beloved musical and people threw cushions, borrowed for comfort on the stone seating, at the stage and performers in a whirlwind of color. It was like the sumo in Japan, but from such steep seating, the cushions flew at great speed as they hurtled towards the cast and it created even more excitement as they hit the stage and people in the VIP seating.
Les Nuits de Fourvière has been an annual event since 1946, so we were not only impressed by the history of the venue but also the history of the festival. The hospitality and the professionalism of all the staff and technical crew were just superb and we felt instantly at home, almost as if we were at our own festival “Earth Celebration.” It was a wonderful feeling to find in France, in a foreign city halfway around the world from Japan.
The next day, we arrived at the theater to set up for our own performances. The path from the stage to the lighting booth was very steep, and the performers had to really look up rather than out at the audience. They shared the stage with the ancient stone relics, our wooden drums looking smaller than usual beside the massive columns, but there was more than enough space for our large cast and instruments, including our biggest drum and cart. ▶ read more
“DADAN” has departed Sado this morning!
First stop is Spain. Let’s hype up the crowd in this passionate country!
Adiós, and have a safe trip!
The members leave Kodo Village. The junior members say “See you!” to the head of the Kodo Apprentice Centre, Yasuhiko Ishihara.
Kodo “DADAN” Spain & France Performances
Kodo “DADAN” Heads to Spain & France
The members for the “DADAN” Spain & France Performances will leave Sado soon. This time, “DADAN” has a new programme and the cast will also feature our junior members. There are new pieces, too!
We have practiced hard everyday, over and over, and “DADAN” has gotten even more powerful. We look forward to seeing how our audiences feel when they come to see this performance.
Kodo “DADAN” Spain & France Performances
The “DADAN” tour members are leaving Sado and heading for Spain soon! At Kodo Village, they are busily working on their final pre-departure rehearsals.
This year’s “DADAN” has an all new cast and programme. The eleven-strong team will touch down in Europe soon. Five of the cast are junior members making their Kodo tour debut. The schedule includes performances at outdoor festivals in both Spain and France.
“DADAN” is constantly evolving and I will be in touch during the tour to share reports of its progress with you all!
Junior members Naoya, Shunichiro and Kengo are practising hard at Kodo Village, preparing for the Kodo “DADAN” performances in Spain and France this July. It will be their first overseas tour and their first big Kodo performance.
Currently two different casts of Kodo members are on tour in Japan, so most of Kodo’s taiko are also on the road and not many are left here for members remaining on Sado to use. So they have to practise with whatever drums & stands are available. Usually this piece is played on hirado-daiko set down on the floor, but today they are practising it up on o-daiko stands. The piece is really powerful like this, too!
You can feel that they don’t want to be beaten by their seniors nor admit self-defeat. I’m looking forward to seeing how much they grow during this rehearsal time while the other members are away.
We are preparing for July’s “DADAN” performances in Spain and France!
We have a fresh new cast and new pieces on the program, too!
Presented by an all-male cast of eleven performers, DADAN awaits you this summer in Europe!
España y Francia, esperen la gran presentación que les traeremos.
Nous vous attendons avec joie et impatience pour nos spectacles en Espagne et en France!
This week we are rehearsing the basics, all week!
*July 2014 Kodo “Dadan” Performances
This production gains power with each performance season. This non-stop, full-power drumming spectacle will tour in Europe this summer and performances are being planned in Spain and in Lyon, France. Details will be announced on the Kodo website when available.
Today it is cold and snowing on Sado Island… and we had a run-through rehearsal of “Dadan” at Kodo Village.
We are beating the drums with all our might with the new junior members.