This weekend, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Theatre and Dance presented the opening of the Kennedy Theatre’s spring season with “Taiko Drum and Dance.” Featuring undergraduate and graduate dancers from UH Mānoa, world-renowned taiko drummer Kenny Endo and members of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, this joint collaboration combines modern and traditional dance with taiko drumming in a series of enthralling performances.
PERFORMANCES TO WATCH
A favorite among the crowd, “Tatsumaki,” produced a much heavier, upbeat powerhouse sound that resonated intensified throughout the atmosphere the theatre. Inspired by one of nature’s most magnificent phenomena, the tornado, “Tatsumaki,” largely contrasted with the softer and more sensitive drumming pieces that opened the show, leaving the audience in a whirlwind before intermission.
Another piece, “Midnight Moon,” had its world premiere performance – the concept was to create a performance where dancers became musicians and musicians became dancers. This piece was found to be most impressive and difficult to taiko drummer and violinist J.D. Andrade, who said that they had practiced this piece since August.
As a person with background in taiko herself, sophomore Brianne Yamada was most impressed with the way uchiwa daiko (fan drums) were used to represent moons, as each performer made music with the drums while dancing, keeping time and staying together.
“Putting dancing with taiko is very difficult because they are two very different arts,” said Yamada, “One is heavily rhythm- and tempo-based while the other is very free and expressive.”
HARD WORK AND REWARD
According to Andrade, the spirit of collaboration is very important because this is the “ … first time to my knowledge that something like this has happened where we’re mixing music and dance in such a different way.”
After a long week of dress rehearsals, Andrade said that the performance was “solid.” He continued: “Some of the pieces were a lot easier to get together with the dancers, others were a bit more difficult, but extremely rewarding.”
The audience reaction to the show made the performers’ effort even more rewarding – many seemed at a loss for words. Nicole Carino, a biology major, was moved by the overall performance.
“I really didn’t know what to expect because it was my first time coming [to Kennedy Theatre],” Carino said. “I got really into it, and I could really feel what they were going through.”