Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kodo

We went to see Kodo last night at the IU Auditorium.

This show was on our short list when we ordered our season tickets, but got cut because we had seen it before and the budget just didn't stretch that far. Then an ice storm ruined our plans to see Blue Man Group on February 1st. The Auditorium was generous and offered complimentary tickets to one of three shows (Kodo, The Chieftains, or the Joffrey Ballet) for those who weren't able to go to Blue Man Group due to the storm.

So, we did get to see Kodo's One Earth Tour (although we are bummed we missed Blue Man Group). And it was awesome!

First up was Sakaki, featuring a solo dancer. It must be all the time I've spent with Chris, but the light reflecting off the dancer's white costume lit the auditorium. The dance was based on an old Shinto ceremony, according to the program, and also served to cleanse the auditorium.

Stride was a very fun piece, featuring cymbals and many of the taiko drummers dancing while drumming. What a great way to begin, after the cleansing ceremony! This was followed by Chonlima, which featured four drummers along a line of drums.

In Miyake, which had three of the big drums with two drummers each, I noticed that one drummer was a 'southpaw'. Five of the six drummed with their left shoulder toward the drum, but the sixth had his right shoulder toward the drum. It was a very athletic performance and I could see some similarities to martial arts or even yoga movements (makes sense that they would be related.)

My favorite number of the first half was the final one, Monochrome, played primarily on small, high pitched drums. It was like a rain storm! The quiet tinkling of the seven small drums gradually increased from a tinkling 'drizzle' into a wild 'monsoon', with three bass drums providing a thunder-like presence. And the bass drummers? Great ab control.

After intermission, we were treated to five more performances.

Jang-Gwara was a cymbal piece, followed by Sora, a very upbeat song. For fans of the Marching Hundred, the four drummers playing the same bass drum was reminiscent of the drum line in Sing Sing Sing. A quiet interlude of Kumo no Namiji, with a singer, flute and drum, covered while the stage was set for the highlight. Before getting to that, I'd like to note that the singing was very similar to that of Native Americans.

And the highlight: O-daiko, on the biggest taiko drum. Two drummers, in loincloth-like outfits (covered the essential), played the big taiko. I was spellbound by the play of muscles on the performer we could see. Yes, he was mostly naked, but it was really a revelation to see how he played. And I'll admit he was in really good shape, which I certainly didn't mind.

The finale was Yatai-bayashi, and then we were treated to an encore rendition of Sora with the whole company. There were a total of thirteen performers, three of whom were women. And if after reading all this, which is sort of dry, but I wanted to remember, you would like to see highlights, Kodo has a little teaser of a promo available on YouTube. It has bits of several of the songs from this tour.

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