We've mentioned our ties with our sister groups in New York and New Jersey, but we are also lucky to be a part of the growing taiko community here in our own Washington metropolitan area (or the WMA, as we locals call it). We took part last weekend in the third annual Sakura Taiko Fest, hosted by our good friends at the Mark H Taiko school, in conjunction with UMD College Park's Japanese American Student Association and Society for Interdisciplinary Studies of Performing Arts.
This performance was a little different than the others we've done this Cherry Blossom season because the primary audience was made up of our taiko community peers--Miyako Taiko, a new group formed in 2014 that's based out of the Mark H Taiko school; Kyo Daiko, a community taiko group from Philadelphia; and guest performers Tanya Downer of ShinDaiko and Mark H Rooney and Kristen Koyama of Kizuna. We gathered at UMD College Park's Nyumburu Cultural Center and jammed out for each other and for friends, family, and guests. There's just something different about the energy when performing for your taiko buddies and listening to your fellow practitioners of this joyful art form; audience members looking around the room during any of the taiko performances would have seen members of the other taiko groups bobbing their heads to the rhythm, doing a bit of chair dancing, and adding in a few kiais here and there. We were impressed by the exuberance that Miyako Taiko members displayed in each of their pieces, and it was great getting to meet the members of Kyo Daiko and seeing Philly's hometown taiko style. Tanya's fue (or flute) performance was inspiring, and you just can't stop yourself from dancing along to the rhythm when Kizuna takes the stage. Check out more pictures from the show on our Facebook page!
After the performance, several of us headed over to a local pizzeria to enjoy some mingling with all of our taiko peeps. We send our thanks to Mark H Taiko for inviting us back this year--we had a blast!