Awa Odori unplugged

Today’s workshop on Awa Odori in preparation for Matsuri on Feb 26-27 was quite a success. We proved that we can play well enough to support the Tokushima-ren dancers from LA coming to perform and to participate in the opening parade. The shime and chan-chiki players need to be rock steady and light and driving to keep the dancers going. The odaiko players have a bit of a challenge in that the melody played on the fue does not fit into 4/4 time. There is one extra beat between verses and you need to pay attention to the fue to catch where to reply. But great fun! I am torn between dancing and playing, but I think we need the extra drummer.

Move ‘em up, head ‘em out

Drums that is. We ran our set for Matsuri including drum moves and faced away from the mirror to get used to the lack of feedback. It’s funny we have decided opinions about what would constitute the best way to move the drums but we all settled down and enjoyed playing our pieces together. There were a few rough edges since we were concentarting so much on the show, but it is hard to hide how much we enjoy playing together. I like lots of our numbers, but I am particularly fonf of our new number, Soma. We have it now and the big red Chinese Odaiko sounds great thundering along in the back. But then, I would say that…

Kodo

Kodo played at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center tonight. We had front row seats and enjoyed every minute. The opening stately dance was so fluid and light – truly wonderful. Monochrome is still shocking in its intricacy and precision. Stride is full of life. The current odaiko player does not yet achieve the intensity of Fujimoto Yoshikazu, but has a body that a medical class would die for. Or do I mean…
Esther-sensei was able to call in old relationships and let us go to meet them after the show. It was great to greet Masami again who had assisted Yoshikazu in teaching us a workshop a few years ago. And it was wonderful to see Eri playing. She had been an apprentice when we visited Sado in 2007. And it turned out that Kenzo Abe, the dancer is from the town where Esther lived in Japan.
I do not have the words to convey how inspiring their performance is. I no longer have the amazed novelty of a first viewing, and while the longer I play the more I can appreciate their skill in relaxing while they play at the same time as letting their spirit free, it does not diminish the enjoyment and wonder of seeing them perform.

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