Pound for pound, Drum TAO delivers a world-class performance

The Japanese taiko drumming company, which was brought to Fresno by the Lively Arts Foundation, offered an exhilarating evening at the Saroyan

DANCE REVIEW

Catching up from the weekend:

How do you describe the way a drumbeat can fill and overwhelm you? Such a moment is easy to experience but tough to articulate. Chalk it up to being human. One of the first uses of percussion was to rally warriors to battle, and it’s easy to see why. A drum is a natural jolt to our nervous systems.

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Thanks to the taiko drummers of Drum TAO, the acclaimed Japanese troupe that made a stop on Saturday night at the Saroyan Theatre, I felt as if I’d experienced drumming on a higher level. With impeccable musicianship, flowing choreography, top-notch athleticism and a healthy dose of wit, the company made a lasting impression. Five impressions from a pounding good show:

1.

It’s all about the buildup. By increasing tempo and volume, drummers can make your heart rate soar. Or at least feel like it. (And, thus, the war connection.) Early in the show, which was titled “Drum Heart,” three drummers lined up in front of the biggest taiko drums in the show — which looked as big as aircraft engines — and whacked at them with long, long drumsticks. The drums were stacked pyramid style, and it reminded me of the front of a train. As the intensity increased and the dramatic lighting intensified, it suggested a steam engine lumbering out of a station.

Continue reading “Pound for pound, Drum TAO delivers a world-class performance”

Feel the beat. No, really feel the beat.

The Lively Arts Foundation presents Drum TAO’s national tour of ‘Drum Heart’ at the Saroyan Theatre. You can win a four-pack of tickets

If you think you work long hours in your job, consider a typical day in the life of a Drum TAO company member on tour:

Meet in the hotel gym at 6:30 a.m. to hit the machines. After a vigorous workout of cardio and strength training, take a shower and eat breakfast. If it’s your first day in a city, arrive at the theater by 10:30 a.m. In Drum TAO, you do your own load-in — you unpack the trucks, carry in the equipment, set everything up on stage, tune the drums. Lunch is at 2 p.m. Continue pre-performance prep, any needed rehearsals, warm-ups. Shows are usually at 7:30 or 8 p.m. After the vigorous, high-octane production is over, you help strike the set and load the trucks. You’re back in the hotel after midnight.

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Drum TAO presents “Drum Heart” on Saturday, May 5, at the Saroyan Theatre.

Next day: Meet in the gym at 6:30 a.m. to hit the machines.

“We manage to keep in shape,” says Taro Harasaki, who has been in Drum TAO for 14 years.


You can win a family four-pack of tickets to Saturday’s performance of “Drum Heart” (7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, Saroyan Theatre). To enter, leave a comment on this post telling why you’d like to go. Deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Friday, May 4, so this is a quick turnaround. I’ll pick the winner at random. Please don’t enter if you won’t be able to use the tickets. I’ll be informing the winner by email, so check yours Saturday morning.


That’s an understatement. Then again, the promotional image for the tour pretty much says it all: Most of the company members are clad in costumes baring their washboard abs. These guys and gals are not gorging on American fast food.

Continue reading “Feel the beat. No, really feel the beat.”

Now streaming: the December episode of ‘The Munro Review’

The third episode of my monthly half-hour arts talk show, done in collaboration with the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC), is now streaming. My guests for December:

• Carla Lippert and Shirley Winters of Central California Ballet’s upcoming weekend production of “The Nutcracker,” along with local dancer Marin Brant.

• Julie Carter, artistic director of the women’s choral ensemble Soli Deo Gloria, which performs Friday. A special treat: A group of her singers came with her to the studio to offer a beautiful tune. (My first live-to-tape musical performance on my show!)

I also offer recaps of my profiles of new Fresno Philharmonic music director Rei Hotoda and Joan Schulze, the Fresno Art Museum’s distinguished woman artist for 2017; a rundown on my news coverage of the saga of Children’s Musical Theaterworks and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium; capsule reviews and shout-outs about College of the Sequoias’ production of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and Selma Arts Center’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Plus, I offer a preview of the December arts scene, including a Bob Hope tribute and the Broadway in Fresno production of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”

As always, thanks to my volunteer CMAC crew and producers Lisa Talley and Kyle Lowe.


To subscribe to the email newsletter for The Munro Review, go to this link:

https://tinyletter.com/donaldfresnoarts

 

Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Nov. 3)

You can win a pair of tickets to New York-based Ballet Hispánico, which performs Saturday at the Saroyan. Plus: It’s time for ‘A Christmas Carol’

Here’s a roundup of promising arts/culture picks for the weekend:

Ballet Hispánico

Simply put, this is one of the prime dance events of the year, and it’s thanks to the Lively Arts Foundation. The New York-based Ballet Hispánico is making a special “run-out” to the West Coast just for Fresno.

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Direct from New York: Ballet Hispánico performs Saturday in Fresno.

Plus: I’m giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s Saroyan Theatre performance to a lucky reader of The Munro Review. (Details on the giveaway are below.)

Diane Mosier, artistic director for Lively Arts, who prides herself on keeping up on the contemporary dance scene, has followed Ballet Hispánico for about six years.

Continue reading “Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Nov. 3)”