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It’s Courtney – yet another new intern at KWTC.
It is such a great honor to be warmly welcomed into this gifted taiko community. In my short time here so far, I have loved every moment. I am excited to continue to share the experience of learning the KWTC style with all of you, and I look forward to getting to know each of you better.
My taiko training began when I was eight years old. I was incredibly fortunate to have been given the gift of taiko from my uncle and aunt, Gary Tsujimoto and Nancy Ozaki of One World Taiko. Gary Tsujimoto is a founding member and the former artistic director and lead drummer for San Jose Taiko. Nancy Ozaki is one of the founding members of Denver Taiko, the third or fourth taiko group formed in the United States. Together, they formed the taiko ensemble One World Taiko in San Francisco in 1990… and soon after my cousins and I began our taiko education playing ‘base-beat’ on our laps in the back of our aunt and uncle’s taiko van.
When I was in middle school, my cousins and I traveled to Florida to perform as guest artists of One World Taiko at Epcot Center in Disney World. This was our first “real” professional gig! In high school, One World Taiko lived in Colorado for a while and we were able to start performing with them as professional members of the group. We were sad when they moved away to Seattle, and we all greatly missed taiko. Our desire to continue to play taiko compelled us to build our own drums and to form our own ensemble, Mirai Daiko, in 2002. Mirai Daiko has played professionally and taught throughout Colorado and in surrounding states from 2002-the present. In 2010 we had the incredible opportunity to travel to the UAE as performing members of One World Taiko at the Dubai Global Village for a two-month residency. It was a fascinating and life-changing experience. Earlier in the year we helped to facilitate the first ever Taiko Summit Colorado with other local taiko groups Denver Taiko, Taiko with Toni, Boulder Hibiki Taiko, Crestone Kaminari Taiko, and Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka – our guest of honor. In 2011, we were honored to be invited to perform with our friends Inochi Taiko as part of the NATC (North American Taiko Conference) Taiko Jam show at Stanford University – this was my final performance with the group before departing for New York.
I came to NYC in order to pursue a Masters Degree in Performing Arts Management at Brooklyn College. This upcoming year is my second and final year in the program, and along with taking classes I will be working on a new opera theater/music theater festival called PROTOTYPE throughout this semester as part of my degree. The first year of school was very demanding, but I am happy that my current schedule allows me to integrate taiko back into my life on a regular basis. I look forward to continuing to train with Kaoru and the KWTC group, and I deeply appreciate the discipline of mind, body, and spirit that this challenging and rewarding taiko education provides.
This past weekend I had my KWTC on-stage debut with Kaoru, Evan, and Mari. We performed at the ‘Wash Ave Rocks’ street fair for KWTC’s vibrantly diverse Prospect Heights neighborhood and community! It was lovely to walk around and explore the variety of cultural art booths and ethnic food vendors, and to see performances by other local groups – I especially enjoyed a Capoeira presentation from the new Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance. Later that day Kaoru, Evan and I travelled to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to perform at a private party for Japanese/American children, parents, and friends on a peaceful rooftop terrace. Kaoru lead a hands-on taiko demonstration for the children and their enthusiasm was contagious! Perhaps some of them are future KWTC taiko players in the making?
If you’ve made it this far (I apologize, being succinct is not one of my strengths), thank you for sticking with my long post! I hope that everybody has a wonderful week, and I am excited to continue to grow alongside all of you in the coming months.