17 performances which varied from playing for the Swansea Half Marathon runners, to appearing on Welsh TV teaching Rugby players to play taiko, to the relaunch of a Japanese Garden in front of the Japanese ambassador, to rugby stadium gigs and the Chinese New Years celebration. Workshops and demonstrations in local schools and kids clubs. Our Taiko life is always fun and exciting.
All those gigs enabled us to continue studying taiko and this year we had amazing teachers: Ingmar Kikat taught us that we can dance when we drum. Kenny Endo opened our eyes to the classical aspects of taiko.
Ting-Chi Li continued to guide us on the way of playing taiko in the slanted position
Martin and Shonagh taught us Yatai Bayashi, polyrhythms, shime chappa and kane, and Alison Roe pushed us to be musical and brave while soloing over the mitsu uchi backbeat on one or two drums.
And all that can only be possible thanks to the continued dedication of all of us to our weekly practice, and to our strong friendship and mutual consideration.
Months and months of preparation from all of us: practice, design and sewing of new costumes, planning the song order, drum formations and drum movements, creating a PR video, posting on social media, practicing, creating projections for the different songs, designing and building bespoke banners, planning of lights, designing posters and flyers, practicing, singing, skipping, learning new styles, coordinating people’s activities on the days before and on the day itself, dreaming, being excited, new t-shirts, new logo, being terrified, a bit of stress, more practice, pulling together… and finally playing on stage and enjoying every minute!
And maybe most of all – the strong connections which we have re-forged with Ting-Chi Li, Xun Dong, Yumi Célia and Alison Roe.
Ting-Chi Li and Xun Dong, a.k.a. SFTD· 共鳴 (San Francisco Taiko Dojo – Resonance) style is strong, powerful, thoughtful and elegant – with every piece they played they gave every ounce of energy they had. Their collaborative spirit showed as they were perfectly in tune and in sync even though most of the time could not actually see each other.
Yumi Célia and Alison Roe, a.k.a 2taiko style is quite different – soft and flowy movements, sometimes very fast and sometimes slow, with lots of bachi twirls. This softness of movement does not take from the powerful strikes of the drum, which are almost unexpected!
Our “Swansea Year of Taiko” project is nearing its end – one last day of adult and family workshops to go…
We have learnt so much this year and we love playing taiko even more. We want to celebrate this feeling, celebrate the things we learnt and the new people we met, the new connections we made and the effort we have all put in.
And what better way to celebrate than to simply play the drums? So we decided to show what we have learnt so far in a concert. We chose the Volcano Theatre as our venue: it is a rugged and friendly place, fit for a community group at the start of our way.
We have invited some of our friends to play with us. They are our friends, our teachers, our collaborators. James Barrow, Taiko Mynydd Du and Alison Roe. The concert will feature many of the elements of taiko that we have learnt from our guest teachers this year. It will contain traditional pieces such as Miyake and Buchi Awase. We will also play more modern pieces inspired by different styles of taiko whose origins are in different parts of Japan such as Hokuriku, Hachijo and Hiroshima. There will also be some original pieces written here in Wales.
This concert is also partly funded by the Arts Council of Wales.