“School Performances in North America During the ‘Evolution’ Tour” by Jun Jidai

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

After our opening night in Las Vegas, we had back-to-back performances for three days in Berkeley, California.

On the first two days, we performed “Evolution.” Then on Day 3, we changed into our indigo-blue Kodo costumes and gave a completely different performance at the same theater: a program especially for school children.

The audience was made up of almost 2000 students from local schools, elementary through high school. Eight cast members from “Evolution” delivered this school performance: Kengo Watanabe, Ryoma Tsurumi, Tomoe Miura, Issei Kohira, Yuta Kimura, Chihiro Watanabe, Taiyo Onoda, and I.

It was a really exciting experience for only eight of us to give a performance in such a massive hall!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

During our school performances, we take turns speaking to the audience during the program. Because we’re in the USA, that meant whenever we were the MC, we had to speak in English. We all had the extra challenge of giving our self introductions in English, too.

It’s my first time giving School Performances overseas. My goal is to communicate with our audiences through taiko, fostering meaningful exchange beyond language and culture.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We also have School Performances in Hanover, Amherst, Burlington during this tour. We’ll give our all to this challenge alongside our theater performances.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour


 

“Voices” by Taiyo Onoda

Photo: Eri uchida

Our 2019 North American tour’s second and third shows were held at Berkeley, a city close to my heart.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Many, many friends and family came to support me, since it’s close to my hometown San Francisco and my alma mater. Both shows, I got caught off guard by the amount of cheers I got during the curtain call, and I got a bit teary, too.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Like the performance I appeared in last November, it is the most nerve-wracking experience to perform in front of a home crowd. The more I think about the people that know me, the more I pressure myself to show how I’ve grown. However, this time I was able to let go of that thought and be as natural as possible. I aimed to be myself, believing that I’ve grown.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The tour has just begun. Many challenges will surely arise, but I’ll take them all on and move forward, step by step. I’ve received the energy to do so from the voices of my friends and family.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Taiyo Onoda surrounded by members of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, San Jose Taiko, and his family.

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour


“The Beginning of the ‘Kodo Evolution’ North America Tour!” by Taro Nishita

January 30. 2019

There are thirty-three Kodo performers. They range in age from 21 to 68 years old, just like a big family.
Each of our performances has a unique cast selected from that large group. As you’d expect within a big ensemble, the members are all closer to some of their colleagues than others. However, one thing we often hear from our audience are comments about perfect coordination, synchronicity, and teamwork. So where does that come from?

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Today is our first day of work on location for our two-month-long North America tour.
The Smith Center is a new, art-deco style theater in a redeveloped area near downtown Las Vegas. This theater hosts performances by world-class classical, jazz, and rock artists.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Still struggling with jet lag, the tour members all began unpacking their instruments, which had been shipped over from Japan. They checked the condition of all the drums and set up for the first performance, while meticulously organizing all the equipment for the long tour ahead.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Lifting heavy instruments onto stands, tuning drums by tightening the heads, and choosing the position for each drum on the stage… I really notice their synchronicity and feel that sense of teamwork when I see them carry out this type of work and their various discussions and checks. These are all important team tasks at beginning of the tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The curtain is about to rise for the opening night of “Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution.”
I hope you’ll come along to experience the unique groove this particular cast creates on stage.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Photos: Takashi Okamoto

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour

Ten Fun Facts About Kodo “Evolution”

“Back Where It All Began” by Junior Member Taiyo Onoda

Photo: Yui Kamiya

This year marks the 50th year of taiko in the United States. It all began in 1968, with the opening of Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka’s San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

I started playing taiko under Tanaka-sensei (Mr. Tanaka) when I was 8. Through the training, I was connected to many leaders of the American taiko community. With their support, I decided to apply for the Kodo Apprenticeship Program when I was 22.

This is the third year since I left for Japan. I had the honor of participating in San Francisco Taiko Dojo’s 50th Annual International Taiko Festival as a Kodo junior member on November 10th and 11th. There were many guest performers with connections to Tanaka-sensei from all over the world, making the whole performance four and a half hours long.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

The finale piece consisted of the guests soloing on the odaiko (big drum), one after another. With all the performers’ emotions overflowing, the piece became a 45-minute-long masterpiece.

Around the performance, I was able to enjoy exchange with San Jose Taiko and KASA.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

It was very nerve wracking to perform in front of this home crowd for the first time in three years. So much so that I had a migraine during the rehearsal…
But for the performance, I believe I was able to calmly present my natural self. Hopefully I was able to demonstrate how much I’ve changed.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

I brought back many words of encouragement, and of course, hugs.
It’s only a few more months until the final selection, when Kodo chooses which junior members can become fully-fledged performers.
My friends gifted me the strength to keep pushing myself. I am looking forward to greeting everyone again with a smile during the US tour next year.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Nov. 10 (Sat) & 11 (Sun), 2018 Taiyo Onoda Guest Appearance at “50th Anniversary International Taiko Festival” (San Mateo, CA, USA)

 

 


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