WHEN: Saturday, March 17, at 7:30 PM
WHERE: Kean University’s Wilkins Theatre, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union
TICKETS: $35 standard, $20 senior, student or child and can be purchased by calling Kean Stage Box Office at 908.737.SHOW (7469), online at www.keanstage.com , or in person at Kean University’s Wilkins Theater Box Office
Explosive Taiko drumming, a traditional Japanese art form, combines with an exhilarating blend of athletic bodies, contemporary costumes and innovative choreography. TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy and stamina have massive appeal with international audiences.
In addition to the drums, Tao members play bamboo marimbas, gongs, flutes and the Japanese harp, Harasaki said. Some songs are traditional, but most are modern and composed by the troupe. First coming to international attention in 2004 with a record-breaking 25 days of sold-out performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, TAO has been touring extensively since 2005. Now adored in Japan and around the world, TAO has performed in over fifteen countries clocking in up to 500 performances per year with a world-wide audience exceeding 5 million. With hundreds of sold-out shows, TAO has seamlessly united modern entertainment with the traditional art of Japanese drumming.
Taiko drumming is a centuries-old Japanese tradition, intensely physical, grounded in the martial arts, moving spirits and hearts with its power. With innovative choreography, extraordinary precision, energy and talent, TAO’s performance evokes historic times while offering a taste of very modern-day artistic creativity.
From a training compound in the mountains of Aso-Kuju National Park in Japan, TAO brings an innovative approach to Taiko performance to the world stage—a mix of drum, dance and musical theatre. TAO delivers a young and vibrantly modern take on Japan’s ancient and venerable percussive artsi—integrating gymnastics, rock music, expressive vocals and an array of percussion from around the world. TAO fuses the rhythm of an opera with melody that summons images of classic landscapes and a raw passion that sparkles with the sophistication of a blockbuster Broadway musical.
Taiko drums, he said, were originally used in warfare to encourage the troops or convey military commands. Over time, they came to be played purely for entertainment. But they still stir the blood. "The audience can feel a lot of energy, a very powerful feeling and a strong beat," Harasaki said. "It's not like a classical concert, but a total show, a very exciting concert."
The high-energy show requires as much stamina as precision from the performers. "We often say we are not only musicians but also athletes," said Taro Harasaki, one of the drummers. "We move around the stage all the time. We bring a lot of choreography, there's a lot of dancing."