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Friday, Nov. 25, 2005

Niigata taiko troupe taps ancient traditions

One of Japan's best-loved taiko (Japanese drumming) groups, Kodo, is performing throughout Japan in December. Based on Sado Island, Kodo started out in 1981 and has since performed all over the world. Each year, Kodo ushers in the end of the year with a bang with their "December Concert" series. The 13-show run starts in their native Sado on Dec. 2 and ends with four shows at Tokyo's Bunkyo Civic Hall (Dec. 20-23) in Korakuen.

For this year's series, Kodo will go back to basics to perform taiko standards while introducing new arrangements influenced by their travels throughout Japan. Since its inception, Kodo has always looked to regional performing arts for inspiration. Such arts were born at a time when nature was equated with the gods and when performance was a form of prayer. Through drumming and dance, people were able to express anger and sadness while alleviating their afflictions.

For Kodo, these ancient arts -- such as the Okinawa Ryukyu Buyo, incorporated into their repertoire with the blessing of local practitioners -- still possess the power to heal. Says Kodo Artistic Director Eiichi Sato: "When I first saw Kodo 23 years ago [aged 18], the stage smelled of the Earth and the show had a powerful rawness. I want to recreate the power and depth of that performance that convinced me I simply had to be a member."

The full schedule is: Dec 2-3, Amusement Sado, Sado City, Niigata Prefecture; Dec. 7-9, Ryotopia, Niigata City; Joetsu Bunka Kaikan, Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture; Dec. 14, Aichi Kosei Nenkin Kaikan, Nagoya; Dec. 17-18, Osaka Kosei Nenkin Kaikan, Osaka; Dec. 20-23 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Tokyo (tel. [0259] 86-3630). For further info (English or Japanese), visit www.kodo.or.jp

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