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By: Allison Ballard

Flop and wiggle. Relax. Be loose.

Fort Wayne Taiko just hosted Tiffany Tamaribuchi, an internationally acclaimed taiko master, for a 3-day residency at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective. And this was my biggest takeaway: Flop and wiggle. Relax, Be loose. These may not appear to be major insights, but they change everything. We realize we have been working way too hard. We found our power is hidden in our ability to let go.

As we advance in our taiko journey, we are focusing more and more on the musicality of the sound being created, not just the rhythmic accuracy …we are focusing more and more on how our movement is initiated and flows, not just the shape our arms make as they land somewhere in space. Our guest artist residency with Tiffany helped us define our next steps. We explored the “time and space of the dong” while playing the shime, beta, naname and odaiko. We learned that the beauty of the sound does not live in the moment the stick hits the drum, but in the space between. We learned to move from underneath our arms and from our back, encompassing our entire core or koshi. We learned to cradle our sticks without pressure or tension, making a radical difference in our strike. We learned to open through the chest and torso. We learned to lift and drop our elbows, letting the forearm follow its lead and throwing the sound through the drum. We talked about playing taiko from a female perspective and I cried while watching our youngest drummer, a 16-year-old girl, begin to find her power while learning to play the odaiko.

We tightened shimes (finally!) and began learning a new song to be played as dialogue between the shimes and our new Hira Daiko. Tiffany composed this intermediate/advanced song in the moment to meet our specific needs and challenge our next step in our taiko journey.

I am no longer frightened to stand in front of our Hira Daiko. It no longer intimidates me.
Flop and wiggle. Relax. Be loose.