The innate impulse to creatively express and share the life force that pulses to the rhythm of our own beating hearts is age-old and universal. It makes sense, then, that drums are mans oldest recorded instrument. In 1981, a professional taiko drumming troupe from Japan, whose purpose it was to tap into their traditional Japanese heritage, emerged as KODO with the O-daiko drum as their centerpiece. KODO, by definition, means “ heartbeat “ while also denoting “children of the drum.” And it is with the fearless impassioned fervent of a childs’ spirit that this show, presented by Washington Performing Arts Society, synchronized the beating of the hearts at Constitution Hall on the night of Saturday March 16, 2013.
The first set, titled Kaden, didn’t begin with drums, but with simulated sounds of nature using a shakuhachi, a whistle and other unnamed instruments. And then the drums made their entrance and so began the rain. It started as a trickling pitter patter that escalated into a cyclone of thunderous reverberations that commanded the earth to move. The six to seven men, at any given time, that pounded on the variety of drums set before him were possessed with a tribal influence that sensationalized their thrashing into a mesmerizing dance that held both the drummer and audience captive to taiko in front of them.
The second half of the show began with a Onidaiko (demon drums), which is a traditional masked dance-drama of the Sado Island in Japan in which dancers dressed as demons ward off the devils in order to pray for a bountiful harvest. The second set titled Tsukimachi finally engaged the O-daiko – which means “big fat drum and can stand up to twelve feet in diameter. The O-daiko is carved from a single massive tree trunk and stands in a horizontal position typically with a drummer working either side of the drum. Tsukimachi refers to a set waterfalls in Japan also known as “Falls of waiting for the moon” and/or “Falls of showing the back side.” With a drumhead of the O-daiko facing the audience, the drummers stalked onto the stage traditionally dressed in Fundoshi loincloth (which translate into a G-string) and did turn to expose the full moon of their backside while conjuring the sounds of all the kinetic energy of a waterfall while displaying all the power and glory of natures most impressive work of art – the human body.
And a bountiful harvest we received.
Running Time: One hour thirty minutes, including one intermission.
Unfortunately, KODO On Earth Tour 2013 only graced us with a one-night performance at Washington Performing Arts Society at Constitution Hall on Saturday, March 16, 2013. But you should check KODO’s website to keep tabs on their touring schedule. The show is awe-inspiring and is worth tracking for a future date. Check the calendar for future events at Constitution Hall.