March 21, 2011

Japan relief benefit & kimono-style taiko

Yuko happily playing taiko.
The previous post mentioned a benefit for Japan at Sushi Yukari. I went in yukata of course, but that's not the half of it! Many members of my taiko group were there, including two taiko friends from Phoenix Taiko Kai and since we had a very special visiting artist that weekend, she came along for support.
We brought a few drums, played, danced, and attracted the attention of  the local news station as well as generous people wanting to donate to the relief efforts. One of our taiko players is from Sendai. Her family is OK (apparently their home was not destroyed) since their home is far inland. However, she has been so worried about her family since and been trying to help remotely. It has taken a lot out of her but she came out to play taiko with us in the parking lot. She was very happy to see so many people come out to dinner and give so generously. Way to go Yuko!

Chieko (L) playing Hana Hachijo as Rome Hamner plays the jiuchi with her.

Chieko Kojima of KODO was the very special visiting artist and was in Tucson for a couple of days to teach a Hana Hachijo and Japanese folk dance workshop.
I was so fortunate to be able to learn some of this taiko style from her. It's very difficult but she makes it look so easy. The dance class was so much fun, we learned some traditional Japanese folk dances! Those were much easier.
What an incredible performer and all around fun lady to hang out with! She even performed Hana Hachijo (Chieko's own woman's version of the famous taiko piece from Hachijo in Japan, performed in "kimono-style"). in the parking lot of the sushi restaurant! Chieko was very moved by the generosity of all of these strangers in Tucson giving to help out her country at this little sushi restaurant in the desert.

Since I don't have a video of that performance (yet), I did find a video performance she did a little over a week ago that I found on You Tube. This one is really fabulous since she is actually wearing kimono.Click here to see her riveting performance. 

And of course, I wore my "new" yukata with the martini glasses on it. It's a wonderful yukata, so boldly colored. I wore it with the deep red hakata obi and a red manekineko tenugui for dancing. Our taiko group performed our own Tucson obon dance in the parking lot to the rhythms of matsuri daiko. So I got to dance a bit. Chieko really liked my yukata (She noticed that it was traditional indigo and white) and was impressed I dressed myself. That was a pretty big complement!
I look a little disheveled...4 hours of taiko and dance before quickly dressing in yukata does that.
Thank you so much for the workshops this weekend Chieko! I hope that I can see you perform on stage one of these days.

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