This past weekend, Soh Daiko traveled to Long Island’s Stony Brook University to participate as workshop leaders in the 2018 East Coast Taiko Conference (ECTC). Sincere thanks and gratitude go out to Taiko Tides for hosting this wonderful international gathering of taiko enthusiasts.
Under a theme of Unity Through Diversity, this year’s workshop leader and guest line-up included North America-based artists spanning from coast to coast, as well as professionals from Japan. Among these individuals was Chieko Kojima, a founding member of the world-renowned professional drumming troupe KODO, and pioneer in uniting dance styles with taiko. Soh Daiko was fortunate enough to host Chieko-san for a private workshop at the New York Buddhist Church prior to the conference weekend, and would like to extend our warmest appreciation to her for all of her time, support, and amazing energy.
During the day on Saturday, Soh Daiko conducted two workshops: First, an exercise in kumi-daiko, or drumming together as a group, where participants improved their abilities to support and engage with one another during a performance through listening and clear communication. Second, we presented our philosophy on Stage Presence. This latter workshop taught participants about our personal approach to blending our presence on the stage with our actual drumming performance, examining how we can continue to make an impact on our audience, even when not playing the taiko. Thank you to all of our workshop participants for the time and effort you committed to our sessions – we are truly happy to have met you all!
We would also like to extend a special “Thank you!” to Karen Young for her presentation about Women and Taiko during the Saturday afternoon Taiko Talks, in which our very own Tamiko Ooka was a panelist. During this time, we recognized two pioneer women from Soh Daiko, who were in the audience, for their role as some of the first women in east coast taiko: Merle Okada and Jennifer Wada. For more information about this ongoing project, please take a moment to view this video, composed of moments from NATC 2017 and the preceding Women and Taiko Summer Taiko Intensive.
In the evening, we not only had the honor of appearing in the final concert – a culminating event at ECTC, but we also had the distinct pleasure of organizing the encore piece: a collaboration bringing all of our fellow workshop leaders together for one united performance of Tenku no Kaze, composed by Tamiko Ooka. We cannot thank everyone enough for their spirit, enthusiasm, and commitment to the development of our North American taiko community, and look forward to what the future has to offer!