Australia’s premier drumming ensemble Taikoz presents The Beauty Of 8, an unusual blend of Tennyson’s poetry with taiko drumming and exquisite Japanese traditional dance.
Featuring guest artists master taiko player, Chieko Kojima and Shakuhachi Grandmaster Riley Lee, the production has all the elements Taikoz is famous for – hypnotic rhythms and adrenalin-fuelled performance.
Guest artist Chieko’s famous combination of dance and unique drumming style will introduce a new element of expression to Taikoz’ performance. Trained as a dancer, Chieko seamlessly combines her love of movement, sound and rhythm into a unique performance, with a program of new music composed by Taikoz members, Ian Cleworth and Anton Lock.
“We’re building the program around Chieko’s talents as a beautiful, emotive dancer and powerful, graceful taiko drummer, and I have no doubt the audience will be thoroughly entranced by her, and the music and theatre we will create in The Beauty Of 8”, says Ian Cleworth, Artistic Director of Taikoz.
The program is constructed in three distinct parts – Horizon, Sunrise and The White Bird. The three parts flow into one another with short scene changes separating each one.
Horizon begins with Tom Royce-Hampton’s recitation of a selection of verses of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses, an epic poem that speaks of the desire to explore new frontiers. Horizon introduces Chieko’s virtuoso side-on drumming, known as Hana Hachijo. Chieko’s original style could be described as flamboyant; dressed in a beautiful kimono, Chieko approaches the taiko as if in a trance, and her movement, which grows in intensity, smoothly transitions from pure dance to ‘drum-dance’ with the infectious rhythms building in a frenzy of sound and colour.
Sunrise is composed by Anton Lock and features choreography by both Anton and Chieko. It develops out of Horizon to feature upbeat, high energy taiko playing, culminating in a piece that sees five players rotating around the odaiko (Grand Drum), each beating out their own ad lib solos in an ever-increasing vortex of sound, power and momentum.
This furious ‘crescendo of pure energy’ is preceded by a delicate but powerful dance for Chieko and four male dancers. A feature of Sunrise is the use of fans in a stark spot-lit space where no bodies or faces appear – just the men’s hands and fans.
The White Bird constitutes the third part of The Beauty Of 8. This final section sees Chieko’s choreography come to the fore as she dances to the ethereal strains of Riley’s shakuhachi in Cascading Waterfall. This delicate and melodious music directly contrasts with the transformation of Chieko from dancer to drummer in her rendition of Hana Hachijo. To bring everyone together in a spirit of playfulness at the end, all players will combine to perform Anton’s upbeat Rhythm River.
‘Taiko’ is the Japanese word for ‘drum’ but a taikoz performance is more than just the beating of drums: it incorporates a complete world of drumming, song and dance that on the one hand harks back to ancient Buddhist and Shinto rituals and on the other is a reflection of contemporary musical life, irrespective of nationality. While once a uniquely Japanese art form, its transformation into an international language is a recent phenomenon and one in which Taikoz is very much at the forefront.
Tickets: $30 – $70 (+ booking fee)
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