Article featuring Tamasaburo Bando & Kodo in Magazine “Geijutsu Shincho”
An article featuring our artistic director Tamasaburo Bando and Kodo is featured in the June 2014 issue of “Geijutsu Shincho” (Shinchosha Publishing), coming out on May 24. It is full of pictures and stories about the “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” production. We hope you’ll take a look.
Shinchosha Publishing Website｜http://www.shinchosha.co.jp/geishin/ (in Japanese)
From “Amaterasu” to “Mystery”: Part 4
Article by journalist Sachiko Tamashige
“Mystery” directed by Tamasaburo Bando
The audience may wonder what kind of idea lies behind the production of “Mystery.” To address this, Tamasaburo Bando wrote the following note prior to the opening:
“It’s hard to put into words, but I’m aiming to create a world of mystery. Across Japan, the folk arts have been handed down for countless generations. There’s a sacredness there, an air of mystery within each prayer. The drums express this, and I would like for the audience to feel it, too. I hope theatergoers will experience the same sort of otherworldly splendor that you sense in temples, shrines, and moments of discovery in the forest. I also want people to enjoy darkness: the beauty of something you come across lit by candlelight, a sense that is both vague and marvelous. Peel back the layers surrounding mystery and you find fear, humor, charm, and other varied and significant qualities. In the “Serpent Dances” that have come down from old, the defeated serpent is endowed with a surprising level of sacredness. In this performance, many things will emerge from out of the darkness. While it’s essentially a drum concert, playing as only drums can play, we’ve added plenty of visual interest. A moment of wonder means nothing unless you are actually present to experience it. Religious rituals as well as the arts have been refined over centuries, using inspiration from those who came before us. In this drumming performance, I hope that the audience will enjoy to the fullest that magical sense of space and time.”
Just before the opening, I asked the artistic director Tamasaburo the following question: “What is ‘Mystery’ all about ?”
Today is May 16, the first day of performances for the spring “Workshop Performance” tour!
Today we have two performances in Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. We are presenting a special programme, which includes “Heartbeat Project” piece Island of the Shining Sun.
Now, we are resting between the first and second performances. It was raining this morning and the humidity has made the tone of the hiraoke odaiko (flat, roped big drum) quite low, so we are going to retune it tightly, ready for the second performance!
Kodo Website | Heartbeat Project
May 16 Kodo Workshop Performance (Ishinomaki, Miyagi)
We gave a “Workshop Performance” at the Ishinomaki-shi Kahoku Sogo Center in Miyagi Prefecture.
Ishinomaki was greatly damaged by the 2011 Tohoku Pacific Earthquake. Kodo had held performances in Ishinomaki prior to the disaster, and we were happy to be able to perform here once more. The smiles and cheers from the audience who gathered to watch us gave us a power boost, so we put all that power into the sound of our taiko.
After the performance, an aquaintance said to us “Please do come back and give another performance in Ishinomaki.” We look forward to returning here and seeing everyone in Ishinomaki, happy and well.
Our next Workshop Performance is in Tokai, Aichi. We hope to see you there!
May 1, 2014
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who follows the Kodo website and Kodo Blog for your constant support of Kodo.
From now on, I am going to write a message at the beginning of each month to give you, our readers, an update from the Kodo ensemble. This month, I will talk about what I felt as we welcomed the new apprentices and junior members to the group recently.
Over the last few years, I have been energetically instructing our apprentices on Sado Island. On April 6th, I attended this year’s entrance ceremony at the Kodo Apprentice Centre.
The “Member Development Course” for people who want to become members of Kodo is a two-year course, with a diverse curriculum which includes performing arts, of course, and also studying agricultural work and etiquette, etc, which aims to develop well-rounded stage performers. When I was an apprentice, the apprentice program lasted one year and we did nothing but physical training and pounding in hours of taiko practise everyday… when I think about it, I feel like a long time has passed since then.
However, between then and now, the apprentices’ will to stand on the Kodo stage and to become Kodo members has not changed. When I see the sparkle in their eyes when we first meet at the entrance ceremony, every year it makes me remember my own initial resolve, and it always feels like the start of a new year.
Apparently, many apprentices say that their lifestyle became the complete opposite of their former one when they entered the Apprentice Programme. The second-year apprentices, who have already spent a full year at the Apprentice Centre, welcomed the new first-years by saying, “Welcome to an unreal world!” and that really made an impression on me.
When I was a new to Kodo, one of the tour managers told me that a Kodo performance has both reality and unreality, and that showing the audience the unreal is what leads to making them dream and moving them. At the Apprentice Centre, where there is a mixture of reality and unreality, I hope that the apprentices will learn many things and gain a lot of experience during their two years, which will make them develop as performers. I hope that one day they can appear on the Kodo stage.
And now, having just completed this two-year-long Apprentice Centre lifestyle, the five young, new junior members are now mixed in with their seniors and they are frantically doing their best to prepare to take the Kodo stage.
Once we are on stage, it doesn’t matter whether you are a veteran or a newcomer, because as performers we are equal. While they have less technique and experience, the newcomers are armed with their youth. They have their own new sensibilities, and as musicians and performers I want them to do their best to create unforgettable performances for their audiences.
From “Amaterasu” to “Mystery”: Part 3
Article by journalist Sachiko Tamashige
Iwami Kagura: Feeling the Heat and Beat in Shimane Prefecture
Yosuke Kusa admires Taizo Kobayashi, his teacher of Iwami Kagura (Iwami: a region, the west part of Shimane Prefecture/ Kagura: dance and music for the kami, or deities): “Taizo looks so cool when he claps his hands to pray for deities in front of the household Shinto altar. Even his everyday routines show his integrity, which is also reflected in his Kagura performance. Kagura is not just about dancing — it is also the way a performer lives their life.” Yosuke met Taizo at the Kyoto University of Art and Design when Taizo ran an Iwami Kagura workshop. Around ten years ago, he started visiting Taizo in his hometown of Yunotsu, Shimane Prefecture.
Taizo’s primary job is making masks for Iwami Kagura. In September of 2013, two cast members of Jamai — Yosuke and Shogo Komatsuzaki — spent two weeks at Taizo’s studio to learn the serpent dance, as well as experience life with the local people. Yosuke and Shogo tried to get to the heart of the Kagura by visiting local shrines, going for runs in the surrounding nature and exchanging ideas and music techniques through sessions with members of a local group of Iwami Kagura. “The local people live with the deities by practicing rituals to either purify themselves or show their gratitude,” Yosuke added, “Iwami Kagura is nourished and enlivened by the way the locals live their lives, and it has been handed down from their ancestors to future generations. Iwami Kagura is also a way for adults to teach good behavior and adherence to the social code to their children. I would like to learn not only the forms and techniques but also its spirit, which links our lives with our direct experience on stage.”
We had a rehearsal today for the upcoming “School Workshop Performances.”
From June, we will give numerous “School Workshop Performances” at elementary schools in Niigata City.
I will be the instructor for the taiko workshop segment.
So, kids, let’s play and enjoy taiko together!
In these pictures, I am teaching the Kodo members, who are playing the role of students in our rehearsal, how to hold the drumsticks.
Two new junior members are with us in the cast. It’ll be an energetic tour!
Kids, see you all soon!
From April 11 (Fri) to 13 (Sun), we had rehearsals with BLUE TOKYO and DAZZLE.
BLUE TOKYO members showed us somersaults, backflips and more! We hope you’re looking forward to the Shiroyama Concerts this summer!
May 2, 2014
On May 4, we will perform at the “Umasa Gisshiri CoCoLo Special Festa” at Niigata Station. We had a run through rehearsal for it today! It’s a 30-minute performance but it’s an action-packed programme.
Please come along to see us at Niigata Station!
Earth Celebration 2014 Rehearsals
In April, Kodo welcomed this year’s Earth Celebration guest artists to Sado Island for rehearsals for the upcoming concerts in summer.
The rehearsals with “DAZZLE,” who bring a wonderful & unique world of their own, and superhuman “BLUE TOKYO” were the best, and kept us all astonished from beginning to end!
▲Rehearsals with DAZZLE
▲ Rehearsals with BLUE TOKYO
During our lunch break we played kemari (a Japanese ball game) and it was a great chance to get to know each other better. Our teamwork was spot on!
We hope you’re getting excited about our performances together this summer!
(Photos: Takashi Okamoto)