Demon Dances &
A Bold Beat
WHEN: Saturday, March 29; doors open
7:15 PM; show 8 PM
WHERE: Community Theater, 100 South Street, Morristown
Drums did more than make music in Japanese tradition. They were valuable tools found at every shrine. They marked the physical and metaphorical edge of a village. If you could hear them beat, you were part of the community.
Kodo, Japan’s preeminent performing arts ensemble, has lived this principle for 30 years, using thundering, soothing sounds that turn audiences into one big village from Asia to South America. Known for its unique interweaving of committed lifestyle, musical mastery, and vibrant traditions, the group returns to North America with four fresh pieces, a brand new recording, and the pulse of ancient festivals.
Kodo unites high-energy percussion, elegant music, dance, and the striking physical prowess needed to sustain a precise yet powerful sound. Along with four pieces new to North America, the 2011 One Earth tour will see the debut of the youthful Kenta Nakagome on the group’s hallmark giant drum, the almost 900-pound o-daiko—a challenging, show-stopping instrument that demands both strength and tenderness.
Innovation is deeply rooted for the group and constantly refers to Kodo’s unique grasp of Japanese traditional arts. The group has nurtured a new approach to staging and set design, which brings the spirit of Kodo’s wooden rehearsal hall to the world’s stages. Instead of hiding drums until needed, most of the group’s instruments remain in view, much as they do in the wooden, ship-like hall where the group creates its pieces. It brings a fresh vigor to the performance, highlighting the simple but beautiful forms created by drum, musician and empty space and drawing the audience into the Kodo community.
“The drum is a ritual tool in Japan, played whenever a community needed to come together. If you can hear the sound of the drum, that means you are part of the community,” Kodo member Jun Akimoto recounts. “We would like to rephrase this story. If Kodo can bring drums and travel around the world and deliver the sound of drums there, we can unite the people who hear the sound and make them part of a community.”