One of Japan’s top-ranking taiko groups, Tamagawa University Dance and Taiko Group, performed at the Charles B. Wang Center on April 5 as part of its 10-city tour to celebrate the beginning of spring with the campus community.
This event featured the art form of taiko drumming, a mixture of musical technique, tight choreography and cultural dancing.
“What amazes me is their energy,” Jinyoung A. Jin, the director of cultural programs at the Wang Center, said. “They will be bringing this wonderful thunder to open up our spring.”
Attendees filled the theatre, eagerly waiting for a vivacious performance. The speakers played uplifting Japanese music, covering the thin layer of voices and preparing the audience for the cultural display.
“I’ve been to other Japanese drummer shows,” Elena Pavlenko, a postdoctoral researcher in physics and chemistry, said. “I’m really excited for the good rhythm. I don’t really care what it looks like.”
Eva Nagase, a professor in the Asian & Asian American Studies department and faculty advisor of Stony Brook’s Taiko Tides, brought the Tamagawa group to the university last year for a similar performance.
“I reached them through the drumming network,” Nagase said. “My friend teaching in Columbia University got me in contact with them.”
The dim lights and music directed show goers’ attention to the stage. Once the spotlight hit the center drum, silence quickly spread through the room.
Throughout the evening, the taiko drumming and cultural dancing rotated to keep the audience on their toes. They were also treated to elegant and graceful performances by the women on the team who wore long floral kimonos. Their bodies flowed in synergy with each other and the music.
Every performer’s calculated movement contributed to an overall jaw-dropping exhibition.
“The girls playing taiko was something we didn’t see last year,” Helena Lancin, a sophomore mathematics major, said. “I was really happy to see them play in such delicate attire while incorporating the dance. I felt chills.”
Each performance hailed an uproar of applause from the house. For the final act, the whole group gamboled around the stage, igniting a heightened exaltation as the audience gave a standing ovation for their memorable show.
Stony Brook is also home to its own taiko drumming group that originated 13 years ago with Joan Miyazaki, a now-retired biology professor who was in attendance.
With the help of a few students, Miyazaki assembled Taiko Tides, making it a home away from home for many of its members. Lancin joined Taiko Tides in her freshman year of college.
“They were really happy to receive new members and take care of us,” Lancin said. “We have some meetings outside of the club and just spend good time together.”
Miyazaki said she first saw taiko at a venue called “Soh Daiko” in New York City.
“It’s such a special art form and I wanted to bring it to Stony,” she said.